Cuts to business rates to benefit small shops

Clevedon Triangle and Clock Tower.

Clevedon Triangle and Clock Tower. - Credit: Archant

Much-needed relief is on the way for small traders after a cut in business rates was announced.

Some businesses will receive a discount of a third off their business rates from April as the Government attempts to arrest the downturn of high streets and town centres across the country.

Business rates are set and collected by the Government, with a cut handed to North Somerset Council to help pay for services across the district.

Many shops are enduring an increasingly difficult retail market with increasing overheads and declining footfall as more people shop online, but a substantial cut in business rates promises to be a boost for owners struggling to make ends meet.

Retailers with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will benefit from the scheme, and business bosses believe North Somerset’s traders will be given a much-needed boost.

Julie Bisacre, owner of Present Company in Station Road and chairman of Clevedon’s Business Improvement District (BID), said: “This is a most helpful development which will be much appreciated by independent businesses, which are clearly the lifeblood of a successful high street.

“This proposal, along with the many exciting plans the BID has around marketing, promotion, street enhancement and connectivity; will help to ensure the future of Clevedon’s retail streets during these challenging times’.

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Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s deputy leader, believes the discount for businesses will assist the authority’s efforts to revitalise retail.

He said: “The additional support for high street and town development announced in November’s budget is timely.

“The new small business support reflects our continued work to support our town centre shops and invest in the future of the high street.”

But Cllr Mike Bell, the leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats, hit out at the authority for taking credit for the initiative.

He said: “It is good news North Somerset’s smallest businesses will benefit from rate relief from April, however, it’s absurd for North Somerset’s Conservatives to be trying to claim any credit.

“They have no choice but to introduce this relief – it is mandated by the Government.

“Cllr Ap Rees’ claims are just nonsense.”