Yet in many communities such as Rochester and Strood these independent retailers are under threat. They face a rising burden of regulation and tax, a daily battle against crime and violence, and competition from the growth of out-of-town shopping centres. It is estimated that 2000 shops close every year.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: CONSERVATIVES PROMISE TO MAKE SMALL BUSINESS RATE RELIEF AUTOMATIC
Business rates are universally unpopular with small shops and businesses. They are often the third most significant overhead, and are fixed, regardless of how well or badly a business is doing. So in a recession, business rates can push a firm over the edge.
Many small shops are entitled to relief from business rates – yet over half of firms don’t claim the money they’re entitled to because they don’t know about it or because it’s too complicated.
This relief could save shops up to £1,100 a year – so it’s vital we help owners claim the full amount they’re owed.
With the help of Leaseholders United, we have provided an online tool to find out what relief – if any – shops are eligible for. Click here if you run a small firm in England or here if you’re based in Wales.
But we will go further than that.
If we win the next election, a Conservative Government would make Small Business Rate Relief automatic. That means scrapping the forms and bureaucracy of handling thousands of claims. It also means providing the help straight away, cutting the fixed overheads of small businesses each and every year.
When taken alongside our plans to cut small company corporation tax rates and reduce the payroll taxes of the smallest employers, this measure is another sign that, as a party, Conservatives are on the side of enterprise.
HELP US SAVE BRITAIN’S SMALL SHOPS
In the Summer, Conservative MPs published a report which set out the challenges facing small shops and ideas for the way ahead. It concluded that we must stand up for small retailers and recognise the vital role they play at the heart of our communities.
So we are campaigning to promote and save our small shops. In particular we are opposing Labour plans to make it easier for more out-of-town development, by scrapping the so-called ‘needs test’. If implemented, this will further undermine small, town centre shops.
You can help save your local shop. Become part our campaign to keep small shops at the heart of our communities.
Mark Prisk MP, the Shadow Minister for Small Businesses – “If you value your local shops then join our campaign to help them. You can make a difference.”
WAYS TO HELP:
- Sign our petition
- Read the report and send your comments and ideas to the Office of Mark Prisk at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to him at Mark Prisk MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA
- Write to the Government to say NO to scrapping the needs test. Address your letters to John Denham, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA
How does it work?
Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) came into effect on 1st April 2005. The scheme is funded by a supplement on the rate bills of larger business ratepayers.
Who is eligible?
Properties with a rateable value of less than £5,000 will get 50% rate relief on their liability. Above £5,000 relief is available, but by 1% for every £100, below a maximum rate of £10,000 rateable value.
The relief is only available for ratepayers who either:
- Have one property and are not in receipt of any other relief.
- Have one main property not in receipt of any other relief and other additional properties with values of less than £2,200, to a total value £15,000 outside London or £21,500 inside London.
The local billing authority will calculate the exact reduction. The rate is calculated to each chargeable day. The relief is not automatic and must be applied for.
Who is not eligible?
- Businesses with rateable values above the limits
- Empty properties
- Those receiving charitable relief
Is there a time limit to apply?
Ratepayers have until September 30th 2010 to apply for rate relief covering the years of 2007-08.
The zero relief for properties with a rateable value between £10,000 and £15,000 outside London and £21,500 inside London.
In Wales the relief is given automatically and there are different RV thresholds.
Take up rates and awareness
The Local Government Association believes that some 870,000 firms are eligible for the rebate but only half have claimed. (1 June 2006)
An FSB survey found that 49% of eligible businesses were claiming SBRR. They also found huge regional variances in take up, with no identifiable pattern by region. (May, 2006)
In September this year, Leaseholders United ran a campaign to raise awareness of the availability of the relief.