11/07/17: Councillors agree financial help for local businesses

Breckland councillors yesterday (10 July) agreed how hundreds of thousands of pounds will be used to help local businesses facing steep rates increases.

For 2017-18, Breckland Council has been allocated more than £300k of Central Government funding to help take the pressure off local businesses facing the greatest rises in business rates. The rises have come about following a national re-evaluation of business rates.

In March, Central Government announced that it would make £300 million available for local councils to distribute among companies facing the steepest business rates increases. Local authorities have been tasked with making sure that companies in their areas are sufficiently supported through this central discretionary fund.

As limited funding is available, Breckland Council consulted with businesses in the district as on how to approach providing relief. As a result, Cabinet approved the approach that funding be allocated on the basis of how many properties in Breckland have a rateable value under £200,000 and the increase is capped at 11%, with relief being restricted to local businesses only.

Breckland Council has been allotted £322k to use for business rates relief during 2017-18; £156k for 2018-2019; £64k for 2019-2020; and £9k for 2020-21.

Business identified as potentially eligible for this support will be contacted directly and the scheme will be published on Breckland Council's website so that the local business community is aware of the available assistance.

Cllr Paul Claussen, Breckland Council Executive member for Place, said: "This money will be used to help local businesses to transition into the new rate scheme, taking the pressure off as much as possible. The guidelines the Council has drawn up provide greater clarity concerning which organisations in Breckland will benefit, and the criteria used to determine relief. The scheme we have created, in consultation with Norfolk County Council, will support Breckland's business community and the local economy."

Following the Cabinet endorsement, the report will be taken to 27 July Council for a final decision.