Over the past couple of months, the FSB has been pressing for assurances from local councils over the spending of the business rates discretionary fund.
In May, Regional Chair Salena Dawson wrote to councils throughout Norfolk and Suffolk to urge them to back the FSB’s five principles for how the fund – designed to support those affected by the recent rates revaluation – should be spent.
In particular councils were asked to:
Commit to focusing the money on those micro and small businesses hardest hit by the revaluation.
Ensure any funds are distributed as soon as possible and automatically refund any firm that overpays.
Commit to a communications campaign to ensure that all affected firms understand how they can benefit from the fund and proactively approach those businesses most in need.
Commit to making the application process for funds as straightforward as possible and attach no conditions apart from the size of the firm and how it is disadvantaged by the revaluation.
Pass a motion making clear it is the council’s view that business rates present significant hardship for small firms and that the council will seek to alleviate this.
The campaign had a positive response from councils, with several confirming that they would take the FSB’s five principles into account when considering the designs of their schemes.
Salena Dawson said: “We all know it hasn’t been the easiest trading environment during the last ten years, but if councils sign up to our Small Business Principles they can really help our local high streets and small businesses thrive.”