'300,000 businesses' get business rate discount

Some 300,000 retail premises have benefited from a business rate discount, the government has claimed.

In her first major speech as High Streets Minister, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt said that a “typical small business” could now be saving 30 per cent or more when compared with last year’s business rates bill.

The saving refers to a £1,000 discount for local shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs, with a rateable value up to £50,000. The government claims the discount, which was introduced six months ago, is equivalent to a tax saving of more than £272 million this year.

The announcement follows news that businesses could claim back up to £2.1 billion in previously overcharged rates.

Speaking to the British Council of Shopping Centres, Ms Mordaunt said: “We must help all respond to the needs and wants of the consumer so the High Street remains at the heart of our local communities – more than simply places to shop.

“We announced the biggest package of business rates support in over 20 years to support local shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Overall, this is worth £1 billion to business with half of that backing High Street shops and retailers in England.”

The government’s measures also include a new payment regime under which retailers can settle their rates bill over 12 months rather than ten, and a two per cent cap on the rate inflation increase. The government has also extended small business rate relief until 31 March 2015, a move that it claims will mean 360,000 business properties do not pay rates at all.