Cheshire West and Chester Council is to use discretionary powers to introduce arrangements to grant a discount to certain retail outlets and provide relief to businesses who move into previously long term empty retail premises.

In Government’s 2013 Autumn Statement, it was announced that a number of changes will be introduced to the way the business rates system will operate from April 2014.

From April the Council will grant a discount of up to £1,000 to ratepayers of retail and food and drink premises, working on the requirement that that the premises are wholly or mainly used as either shops, restaurants, cafes or drinking establishments.

The rateable value of the premises must not surpass £50,000 and the state aid threshold for a particular ratepayer should not be exceeded.

The Council will also grant a discount of 50 percent to any business which moves into any retail premises that has been empty for a year or more.

The discount will be subject to state aid limits, available for 18 months, and will apply to any business which moves into long-term empty retail premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.

Executive Member for Resources, Councillor Les Ford, said: “This is really great news for our small to medium-sized businesses operating within the borough and I am delighted that businesses who may have been feeling the squeeze will soon see a real saving on their outgoings.

“Government announced changes to the country’s businesses rates system last year and we are now in a position to implement these new reliefs for the benefit of our local businesses.

“We have estimated that over 1,700 local businesses will benefit from retail rate relief discount and by using the rating information already held by the council, the £1,000 discount will be included on business rate bills being issued in March 2014. The discount will also apply the following year.

“The reoccupation relief will form an important part of the Council’s strategy of bringing empty shops in town centres back into use and give new businesses a bit of a helping hand in their first 18 months of operation.”

If Retail Relief is not shown on your 2014/15 business rates bill and you think that you may qualify, please contact the Council on 0300 123 7023.