THURROCK Council is urging small and local businesses to contact it directly if they think they qualify for business rate relief.
Cllr Victoria Holloway, the council’s new cabinet member for central services, said: “When it was explained that some local firms are paying other organisations to get this relief I was shocked.
“Thurrock Council will help all local businesses that qualify to apply for their relief – at no cost.
“I understand some companies have been persuaded to employ another organisation to do it for them – at a cost. The council’s help and advice is free, ensuring local firms get the full amount they are entitled to.”
The government announced in its Autumn Statement on 5 December last year that it will provide a relief of up to £1,000 to all occupied retail properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less in each of the years 2014-15 and 2015-2016.
The government says it wants to support town centres in their response to the changing retail sector – particularly because of internet shopping providing challenges to high street stores as they look to adapt to consumer preferences in how they shop.
Properties which will benefit from the relief are those that are wholly or mainly used as shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments.
Cllr Holloway said: “People should to come to us directly if they think they qualify.”
Help and advice is available free of charge at email@example.com or online at the council’s website thurrock.gov.uk and following the links through Business and licensing, Business rates, and Retail rate relief.