Small Business Rate Relief is not the sort of subject that exactly sets pulses racing, yet it is exactly the sort of help that local authorities should be providing for the small businesses here in Ipswich.
Currently, businesses which have a single premises with a rateable value of £6,000 a year or less are entitled to 100% rate relief. Others are entitled to a percentage of rate relief if their businesses premises are valued at between £6000 and £12,000.
This has earned 1,174 of them a cool £1.9 million in Ipswich, but some businesses have not applied for the relief because they don’t know they are eligible. Following a targeted publicity campaign by the Council and the Suffolk Chamber, a further 124 companies have now been signed up bringing a further £111,000 into the town.
On Thursday night the Borough Council’s overview & scrutiny committee will discuss the campaign to raise awareness. Councillors will hear that there are probably another 28 businesses that are eligible for the relief but who have not applied.
Councillor Martin Cook is the Borough’s resources portfolio-holder. He said today: “In this tough economic climate we want to ensure that as many small businesses as possible apply for all the help they are entitled to. We ran a successful campaign to raise awareness of business rate relief and we are pleased with the take-up that has cost the council tax-payers of Ipswich nothing. We know there are still a few businesses who have not applied and we hope that they will take advantage of the scheme and contact us.
“This Council is committed to supporting businesses through a number of initiatives, including business rate relief, cheaper parking in the town centre and the Test Trading retail start-up scheme.”
Meanwhile Andrew Cann, Chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: “This is an example of the positive work that the Ipswich Borough Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee conducts.
“Committee members were concerned whether local small businesses were taking up the relief(s) available. Following the intervention of the Committee positive action was undertaken by the council to improve the take up of reliefs through targeted information and assistance.
“The already good take up rate is now improved.
“It is for the Committee, Thursday, to decide whether they are satisfied with the current position and what they want to see happen in the future but I think it’s fair to say that there has been much good progress from an already strong position.”