Local firms still overpaying rates
Published: Thursday 21st April 11
Hundreds of local firms could be overpaying their business rates because they are not applying for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR).
The council runs one of the most vigorous awareness campaigns in the country aimed at encouraging traders to apply for the relief and has once again written to more than 900 eligible businesses to persuade them to make a claim.
In many cases small firms could be missing out on annual savings of up to £2,500.
Contrary to popular belief, business rates levels are set by central government, not local councils.
Chancellor George Osborne has recently announced that he is extending a temporary increase in the level of SBRR which means eligible firms will not pay any rates if their premises have a rateable value of £6,000 or below.
The level of relief then tapers off from 100 to zero per cent for properties with rateable values of £6,001 to £12,000.
The higher relief rate will be available until 30 September 2012 so it's vital that eligible firms take advantage of the increased saving.
Deputy council leader Maurice Heaster said: "With business rates soaring in recent years it's vital that vulnerable small firms take advantage of their increased relief entitlement.
"The council is doing everything it can to encourage local businesses to make a claim and has simplified the application process to make it easier and less time consuming. Our application form is now just a single side of A4 which takes around two minutes to complete.
"Raising awareness is the other half of the challenge. In Wandsworth we write to every eligible trader to explain SBRR - including a copy of the application form and a return envelope. We then continuously promote the scheme through newsletters, email bulletins, the local press and through our website. A reminder to return the form has been included on every piece of small business correspondence that leaves the town hall.
"We also make full use of the council's rolling programme of business forums and seminars where our officers provide a full explanation of SBRR face to face with local traders in locations which are convenient to them.
"These efforts ensure the borough's take up rate is consistently high. Currently 2,155 small businesses in Wandsworth are in receipt of SBRR which will amount to a yearly saving of more than £1.7m for the local economy."
To find out more visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/businessrates.