Early stages of relief fund for businesses hardest hit by rates change approved

Nationally 300m has been made available to support businessesaffected by the revaluation
Nationally 300m has been made available to support businessesaffected by the revaluation

The early stages of a scheme to direct funding towards businesses hardest hit by changes in business rates has been given the seal of approval by Harrogate Borough Council.

Businesses which face costs of more than 10 per cent due to the changes to businesses rates earlier this year could see support through the discretionary rates relief scheme, the outline of which was approved by Deputy Leader for HBC, Coun Graham Swift today (Wednesday, August 18).

Nationally £300m has been made available for local authorities to direct support to businesses affected by the revaluation. Across four years the funds will be made available to support these businesses, a grant of £197,383 will be combined with funds from the 50% business rates retention scheme to provide £394,766 for the district's first year.

While the final version of plans will require approval at future sessions of Cabinet and Council the move has been described by Deputy Leader for HBC, Coun Graham Swift as working towards supporting those most affected by the changes.

Coun Swift said: "This is good news for businesses in the district that have seen a big increase, they will see a significant increase through this £394,766 relief scheme.

"It is going to save them money and provide them relief with the rates which they regard to be very high rates.

He added: "It would be wonderful if we could retain the £60m in business rates we collect but this is unlikely to happen in the future.

"323 business will however benefit from this, it is a small number out of the more than 13,000 businesses in the district but these are the ones that were most affected."

The national funding pool is split with £175m allocated for this year and the proceeding years seeing £85m, £35m and £5m being made available.

Council documents state data collected on business rates in the district against the level of funding could see a 60 per cent reduction through the scheme.

It was also noted that if funding is not used HBC will have to repay the remaining grant, if the scheme exceeds the level of funding available the council will also be required to meet the shortfall to ensure all eligible businesses in the district receive this support.

Consultation on the scheme will also be carried out with North Yorkshire County Council as part of a final decision.