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Small firms miss out on rates relief
by The Editor at 12:04 02/06/06 (News on Business)
Half a million small businesses across England are missing out on money that could make the difference between staying afloat and going bankrupt a new survey* by the Local Government Association revealed.
A snapshot survey of local councils has revealed that almost half of all businesses that could qualify for Small Business Rate Relief, and cut their bills by up to £2,500, have failed to apply for it.

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Just 48 per cent of small businesses have applied for relief with around £400 million left unclaimed in England. Council leaders have issued an urgent plea to businesses across the country to come forward and claim the money they are entitled to. Most recent figures show that there were 3,439 company liquidations, a rise of 17.6 per cent on the previous year, in the first quarter of 2006 in England and Wales.

Council leaders are urging small businesses to contact their local council urgently to see how much tax relief they could be entitled to.

Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said: “Small businesses up and down the country are facing immense difficulties keeping their heads above water. Hundreds of millions of pounds is sitting around waiting to be claimed by hard pressed bosses of small firms.

“When local businesses are facing rising costs, it is vital that they apply for the tax relief that they are entitled to. Many thousands of businesses are entitled to a tax rebate that could make the difference between business as usual and bust.

“Many of the shops that face the biggest cost increases are the very ones that the local community depends on. They have nothing to lose by contacting their local council as they could see their rates bill slashed by half.”

Regions
Regions take up figures are:

  • North West with 26 per cent of eligible businesses taking up relief
  • London 34 per cent
  • South East 43 per cent
  • Midlands 48 per cent
  • South West 48 per cent
  • East with 57 per cent
  • North East 79 per cent

Small Business Rate Relief
This relief came into effect on 1 April 2005. Eligible businesses with rateable values of below £5,000 will get 50 per cent rate relief on their liability. This relief will decrease on a sliding scale by an estimated one per cent for every £100 of rateable value over £5,000, up to £10,000. Your local billing authority will calculate the exact decrease.

*The survey was conducted of all Local Authorities in England. The survey had thirty five responses from Local Authorities and found that of the 78,770 small businesses that could be eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, just 38,292 had done so. If this was replicated across the country, there would be around 873,221 small businesses entitled to the relief, with only 424,494 so far having done so.

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The Editor

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