Retail rates for 735 Wakefield businesses cut by a third

Businesses in town centres and the city centre will benefit.
Businesses in town centres and the city centre will benefit.

More than 700 small Wakefield businesses are set to see their retail rates slashed by a third.

The move has been announced as part of plans to offer a helping hand to the struggling high street.

A high street summit will take place in March to discuss issues facing local businesses.

A high street summit will take place in March to discuss issues facing local businesses.

Any firm based at a property valued at £51,000 or less will be eligible for the tax break, with cafes, restaurants, shops and pubs among the businesses which will benefit.

The financial loss to Wakefield Council will be plugged by government, and the scheme will run for two financial years from April this year.

There will also be help for traders who lost small business or rural rate relief as a result of changes in 2017. Any increases they see in rates will be capped at £600 a year until 2022.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, portfolio holder for corporate services Councillor Les Shaw said: "We all know about how businesses are struggling and we want to support them.

"We are looking at town centres and how we can improve them, and this is certainly a step forward."

The scheme is expected to save 735 businesses a collective total of £2m over the course of the two years.

The changes will be made automatically and company owners will not have to apply for the support.

However, the council has stressed that the relief will have to be reduced or scrapped if the government reduces the amount of relief or scraps the scheme.

The changes do not affect any existing support with rates that businesses in the area currently enjoy.

Meanwhile, an inaugural high street summit, which was declared before Christmas and will unite the city centre's key stakeholders is set to take place before Easter.

Council leader Peter Box told the Cabinet: "We're hoping to have our conference, where we're bringing together people from business, people who represent landlords and members of the public in March this year."