Help for Business Rates payers

Councillors have used South Somerset District Council's (SSDC) discretionary powers to introduce a range of Business Rate Relief measures to help local businesses.

These discounts became available from 1 April 2017 when the new Valuation Rating List came into effect.

Two of the measures; increasing Mandatory Rural Rate Relief to 100% (for eligible ratepayers) and giving a local discount of £1,500 a year for Local Newspapers; were announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and by using the Council's discretionary powers it has been possible to introduce these measures immediately without waiting for legislation.

The Third measure being introduced is a 'better buy' award that increases discretionary Charity Relief to 100%, where the charity ratepayer would otherwise have qualified for 100% discount under the Small Business Rate Relief. Doing this overcomes the anomaly caused by regulations that apply Mandatory Charity Relief (previously at 80%) instead of Small Business Rates relief where the ratepayer qualifies for both.

Councillor Peter Seib, South Somerset District Council's Portfolio Holder for Finance and Legal Services said, "This is very good news. Introducing these measures early demonstrates the Council's commitment to small business and the measures had cross-party support. Using discretionary powers is making a real difference where it counts.

"The old way had anomalies, with some rural Post Offices paying a higher rate than comparable urban ones. Those anomalies have largely been addressed and bills lowered.

"If you feel you may qualify for these or for any other Business Rate Relief please get in touch with our team. We would love to see as much local benefit as possible."

Two further measures will be considered by SSDC's District Executive on the 6th April. These are the Supporting Small Businesses Relief and the Business Rate Relief Scheme for Pubs, both announced in the Chancellor's Spring Budget and requiring the use of discretionary powers to introduce them ahead of legislation.

The Supporting Small Businesses Relief limits the effective increase in rates for up to five years where a ratepayer is losing some or all of their Small Business or Rural Rate Relief. The relief for pubs would see eligible pubs receiving £1000 for 2017/18 only.