Council rapped for time taken to ease business rates misery in Peterborough

David Thorpe, development manager for Peterborough and Lincolnshire FSB.
David Thorpe, development manager for Peterborough and Lincolnshire FSB.
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Peterborough City Council has been rapped for the time taken to share out emergency funding to help struggling businesses after a national shake up of rateable values.

The criticism comes from a business lobby group after the council was included on a list of 46 authorities that have yet to start distributing their share of a £300 million rate relief fund announced nine months ago.

The list was last updated by the Department for Communities and Local Government on December 11.

It shows while the council had implemented two parts of the three pronged help scheme - support for some pubs and a cap on the level of rates increase for some businesses - it had not awarded government money intended to support businesses most affected by the re-valuation.

However, a council spokeswoman said a rates relief scheme was now up and running.

David Thorpe, development manager for the Peterborough Federation of Small Businesses, said: “It’s now nine months on from the announcement of emergency relief for those most harmed by April’s business rates revaluation.

“While some councils got on and distributed that help others have been slower to take action.

“The discretionary relief scheme was an emergency measure intended to help those businesses suffering hardship.

“It is fantastic the council has now started to distribute the funds, but it should have been done immediately the government announced the scheme.

“Those businesses have been put at risk for that length of time.”

The council spokeswoman said: “We believe we have implemented this in a reasonable time. It has taken us time to design a scheme that ensures the support we have received is targeted towards those ratepayers most in need.

“The pot of money totalled £272,000 which can only help a certain number of businesses, so it was important to ensure that our scheme was both fair in its criteria and also ensured that we did not overspend.

“Peterborough’s Local Discretionary Relief Scheme has now been finalised and has been published on the council’s website for a number of weeks.

“We have received some applications for reductions and we will be writing to customers we feel may qualify under the council’s scheme before Christmas.”