Rate relief proposal for Uttlesford businesses

Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden. Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden.

Thursday, February 27, 2014
9:43 AM

Profit margins for Uttlesford businesses could look a little rosier if councillors are sold on a proposal to introduce thousands of pounds worth of rate relief.

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Members of Uttlesford District Council meet tonight (Thursday) to thrash out plans which would see £1,000 discounts applied to retail properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less.

Businesses will also be given a 50 per cent rate cut for 18 months if they move into premises that have been empty for a year or more.

The proposal, an adoption of a Government blueprint drawn up in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, would see the new rate relief system come into force from April.

Shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs could all benefit from the £1,000 discount for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years.

The 50 per cent discount will only apply to businesses which move into empty premises between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2016.

There are also believed to be plans in the pipeline for additional business rates relief on top of these new proposals, although nothing has been made public as yet.

Cllr Robert Chambers, cabinet member for finance, told the Reporter £1million had been set aside to boost commerce in Uttlesford.

He said: “However we decide to use that money we want to make sure taxpayers can see that it is helping the local economy.

“I’m going to make sure it is spent wisely and not poured down the drain, because that’s easy to do. It is not going to be a slush fund.”

Chairman of the Saffron Walden Town Team Petra Slack, who owns Petrus on High Street, tentavively welcomed the proposed initiative.

“It’s a positive move towards supporting both existing and new local businesses,” she said. “I think there will be a number of businesses on Saffron Walden’s high street that will benefit from this but it will depend upon how it is handled and rolled out – that will be extremely important.”

She added: “It’s great the council is talking about relief for new businesses taking up empty premises but what is really important is that existing businesses are not forgotten. They are the lynchpin of encouraging new businesses because if the high street is empty it’s not going to be attractive.”

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