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Business Rates - Discretionary Funds.

Following successful FSB campaigning on behalf of its membership, the Government announced a series of additional business rates measures at the Spring Budget this year:

• A £300 million business rates hardship fund to enable local authorities to grant discretionary relief to those hardest hit.

• A one year £1,000 business rate discount for pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000.

• A limiting of the annual increase for small businesses losing Small Business Rate Relief to the sum of £50 per calendar month or the real terms transitional relief cap.

Local Authorities will be tasked with creating their own scheme for delivering the hardship fund in their areas. We have written to them asking them to support FSB's Small Business Principles for the fund, which are:

• Commit to focusing this money on micro and small businesses, particularly those hardest hit by the revaluation

• Commit to ensuring that funds are distributed as soon as possible and automatically refunding any firm which overpays their business rates

• Commit to a communications campaign to make sure that all affected firms know how they can benefit from the discretionary funds you provide, and proactively approach businesses most in need

• Commit to making any application process for funds as simple and straightforward as possible, so it is inclusive for the smallest firms in our area, and attaches no conditions aside from the size of a firm and how that firm is disadvantaged by the revaluation

• Commit to passing a motion of the council, making clear it is the council's view that business rates present significant hardship to small and micro businesses in particular, and that the council is acting to alleviate that hardship

It is strongly advised that if you have been affected by business rates increase that you register your intention to apply for the hardship fund by;

• Writing to your District / borough local authority asking them to inform you of the details of how they will use the discretionary fund that's been made available

• You inform your book keeper or accountant of your actions so that they can help by monitoring expenditure and ensuring costs are accounted for.

• You check your direct debits/standing orders to ensure you are paying the correct rate.