Oxford City Council has agreed the terms of three discretionary schemes designed to support local businesses which would otherwise face increases to their business rates this year.
A revaluation of business rateable values by the Valuation Office Agency, and government changes to the Small Business Rate Relief scheme meant some businesses faced big rises in their rates from April. The Government has allocated £300m to councils nationally over the next four years to help those businesses facing the biggest increases.
The agreed proposals will cap business rate increases for some small business, provide discounts to public houses, and set up a revaluation discretionary relief scheme to support other businesses facing rate increases.
As most council tax is collected on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police, the council has worked with these agencies and other Oxfordshire district councils to agree the revaluation discretionary relief scheme on a countywide basis.
The Discretionary Relief Scheme will run for four years, with central government funding for this being reduced each year. In 2017/18, the scheme will offer an 8.5% reduction in rates to businesses with a rateable value below £200,000, and which meet its other criteria. In 2017/18, this is expected to save local businesses around £360,000 in rates.
The Public Houses Relief scheme will run for one year and will give a rate discount of up to £1,000 on their 2017/18 business rates for 121 public houses across the city.
The Supporting Small Business Relief scheme will cap business rate increases each year between 2017 and 2022. For 2017/18, the increase in business rates for qualifying small businesses will be limited to £600 or 5% plus inflation, whichever is the greater. The latter two schemes are 100% funded by central government.
Councillor Ed Turner, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “We are pleased to agree this help for small businesses to cope with increases in their business rates. We have agreed an Oxfordshire-wide discretionary relief scheme with the county, the police and the other districts, which will offer much-needed support. We will be contacting businesses as quickly as we can to invite them to apply for rate relief from the three schemes.”