Help for Preston businesses with new retail discount scheme

Source: Preston City Council 11 February 2019

Help for businesses in Preston is available from April 2019 with a new two year retail discount scheme for business rates.

The Government announced the scheme in the 2018 Autumn Budget. In Preston in year one it’s likely to help over 500 businesses, with discount amounting to approximately £1.67m.

The discount equates to one third of the business rates bill. The types of property that will benefit are those with a rateable value less than £51,000 that are mainly used as shops, predominantly for sale of goods to the public such as bakers, florists, newsagents, opticians etc. Also restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments are likely to qualify.

Cabinet member for resources and performance, Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, said:

“I’m sure this will be welcome news for eligible businesses in Preston. It can only help small and medium sized companies in terms of retaining local staff, and to reduce their overheads during a difficult period for the high street.

“The council will be following its fairness principles ensuring that all businesses in the city, especially those in the more deprived areas, will be treated equally when applying the retail discount.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

• The Government announced in its 2018 Autumn Budget that it will provide a business rate Retail Discount Scheme for occupied retail properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000 in each of the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21.
• Full details can be found in the Business Rates – Retail Discount Scheme report (opens pdf)
• The Guidance sets out the criteria which central Government considers for this purpose to be retail and as such eligible for discount, encompassing properties used wholly or mainly as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments. It is intended that qualifying properties are used for the provision of services to visiting members of the public.
• The Guidance also sets out the type of uses the Government does not consider to be retail (e.g. financial Services, medical services and professional services – solicitors etc).
• The Guidance can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/760973/Retail_Discount_Guidance.pdf (opens pdf)
• Eligible businesses need not apply for the discount, which will hopefully already be deducted from the amount they pay when they receive their bill in March 2019.
• The council will be reimbursed for any discounts awarded, using a grant under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003, and therefore it is not expected that the council will incur any additional costs for providing the discount.
• Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate. Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone. For more information please see: www.prestoncommunitywealth.org

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