More than 300 Perth and Kinross businesses could benefit from new rate relief scheme

Perth and Kinross CouncilBusinesses across Perth and Kinross are set to benefit if innovative rates relief proposals are approved by the Council’s Strategic Policy & Resources Committee next week.

The proposals being put before the local authority’s panel represent a potential investment by the Council of over £600,000 in the region’s businesses.

They have been drawn up in response to feedback from local business representatives at the two recent ‘Perth Connect’ trader engagement meetings.

Committee members will be asked to approve the Council’s use of discretionary powers to extend existing business rates relieve schemes to ensure more local businesses qualify for their support.

Proposals include enhancing the principles of the existing Small Business Bonus Scheme for occupied retail properties within a defined area of the city centre and a number of town centres.

The Small Business Bonus scheme already gives a degree of financial protection to those with rateable values up to £12,000 and those at the higher end of the valuation spectrum are well established high street names where financial support may not be viewed as appropriate. However, a core of medium sized properties predominately occupied by independent businesses with a rateable value between £12,000 to £30,000 currently qualify for limited or no relief.

The Council is proposing to:

• Provide a top-up of 20 per cent to businesses currently receiving 25 per cent relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme. An estimated 200 businesses would benefit.

• Consider relief for businesses where rateable value is between £18,000 and £25,000. This would benefit an estimated 85 businesses.

• Consider relief where rateable value is between £25,000 and £30,000. This would benefit approximately 35 additional businesses

This discretionary scheme would not be made available to businesses where off-sales, the sale of new psychoactive substances (NPS), bookmaking or gaming i.e. arcades takes place.

The total maximum cost for all proposals to expand provisions of the Small Businesses Bonus Scheme is £504,000. This scheme of proposals will be applicable during the current financial year and will end on 31 March 2017.

In addition, the Committee is also being asked to approve a relief for new occupiers of previously empty properties that have proved difficult to reoccupy. It is proposed that ratepayers who have taken up a new occupancy and do not meet the qualifying threshold for the Small Business Bonus or other relief schemes will receive a 50% relief for up to 6 months in this financial year. The approximate maximum cost for this is £116,000.

The total estimated cost of all the proposals is £620,000.

Councillor Ian Miller, convener of the Strategic Policy & Resources Committee, said: “This proposal is a clear message to our local businesses that Perth & Kinross Council has been listening. We are proud of the strong independent business tradition in the area, and know that times have been challenging as we all adjust to 21st century retail and visitor habits.

“While there has been a lot of publicity about the impact these changes have had on Perth city it is important to recognise that businesses in our towns are facing these exact same challenges. I believe that this scheme will benefit a significant number of independent businesses across Perth and Kinross and shows that this Council supports business and will continue to work with the private sector to make this an attractive and thriving area to visit.”

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