Hundreds of local shops will benefit from help with rates

After a record breaking Christmas season in Worcester’s High Street and the city winning recognition at a national award ceremony, Robin Walker, Worcester’s MP has welcomed confirmation that hundreds of local shops in Worcester will benefit from the Government’s business rates discount schemes next year.

At the Autumn Statement last year it was confirmed that the doubling of Small Business Rate relief, launched by the Coalition Government after years of campaigning by local Worcestershire MP, Sir Peter Luff, would be extended by another year. This helps 888 businesses in Worcester of which 552 pay no business rates at all as a result of it and 336 receive a tapered discount.

In addition to this, following the hard hitting report on High Streets and the Future of Retail that Robin’s Select Committee produced in 2014, the Government announced an extension to its popular Retail Rates relief scheme that offers targeted support to smaller shops, pubs and restaurants. This special discount which was worth £1,000 per business in 2014/15 will expand to £1,500 per business in 2015/16. These substantial rebates will be received by 530 businesses in Worcester.

A total of 2,214 businesses in Worcester will benefit from the 2% cap on the small business rates multiplier.

Robin has campaigned over a number of years for reforms to business rates to help the high street and to support smaller businesses. Building on the work of Sir Peter Luff as chairman of the business select committee which helped to secure an automatic discount for small businesses, he has championed the retail sector for the jobs that it creates and the value it brings to city centres.

The figures came in answer to a Written Parliamentary Question which Robin tabled in December.

Speaking about these numbers Robin said: “Its fantastic news that hundreds of small local retailers will have this boost. I have always spoken up for local businesses and it was a pleasure to do much of my Christmas shopping last year in some of Worcester’s excellent small independent shops. These businesses don’t just provide jobs and careers for people – they also add to the colour and the enjoyment of our city and help to make Worcester such a special place to be. Supporting them is the right thing to do economically but also socially and for the city, which is why I was so pleased when the City Council listened to my campaign and cut parking charges too.

“I am delighted that extra help with business rates is being provided just as the High Street is beginning to show strong signs of recovery. It’s good to see empty shops being filled and new businesses thriving. I will keep on pushing for further reforms to help sustain a strong and vibrant retail sector for our city. 2015 should be an exciting year for retail in Worcester with big new entrants such as Waitrose and Home Bargains opening up in the city, but we must keep supporting our smaller shops and high streets. I want to see Worcester stay a lively and exciting place to shop.”