New scheme offers rate relief to small, struggling businesses

Pic: Peter G. Trimming

Pic: Peter G. Trimming

Small businesses are being offered discounts of up to 65 per cent on their business rates as part of a new scheme unveiled by Croydon Council, to encourage businesses into the borough.

The Business Rate Relief scheme will allow firms to offset big fixed costs of running a shop or office against their business rates, in order to reduce the costs. The scheme, costing £1.1 million, will be funded through the Mayor of London’s controversial £23 regeneration budget, pledged to Croydon after the 2011 riots.

It is a part of plans to encourage small and medium-sized businesses struggling to find affordable commercial space in central London to relocate to Croydon. Businesses that are eligible and have an annual rateable value of over £25,499 stand to save tens of thousands of pounds for up to two years.

Cabinet member for communities and economic development, and councillor for Fairfield ward, Vidhi Mohan said that the scheme was intended to deal with the high levels of large, empty office space around East Croydon. It is hoped that the creation of new businesses in the borough will generate up to 2,000 jobs.

“Not only will this scheme enable growing businesses to save thousands of pounds, but it will create jobs, fill empty commercial space and put money into the economic growth of the whole borough.” said Mohan.

The initiative has received criticism for not offering help to those small and medium businesses that were worst hit by the riots, including shops and offices on London Road.

Instead it is targeting new businesses, offering relief to outlets and services in areas such as Fairfield Road, Lunar House, land to the east of Croydon’s eight-lane motorway and to the west of the London-to-Brighton railway line. Those around West Croydon station and Prospect West will also be eligible for relief in the next two years.

A spokesperson from Croydon Council said that the decision to limit the relief scheme to certain areas was in an attempt to ‘’fill office vacancies’’.

“The offer of reduced business rates could in part help reduce the number of empty shops and offices in the area by up to ten per cent over three years.” said the spokesperson.

The council is encouraging those who think they would be eligible for the scheme, or who would be interested in finding premises with reduced rates to contact them.

Businesses that apply will have to demonstrate that they will be employing more people as a result of taking on new premises.

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