Eric Pickles has launched a billion pound package of tax rules that will benefit high street businesses.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has set out an allowance of up to £1,000 in 2014/15 for retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000 – including shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants.
Other measures introduced include capping the increase in bills to 2% in 2014-15 – businesses were expecting a 3.2 % rise; and extending the doubling of the Small Business Rates Relief to April 2015.
Elsewhere the plans will see a reoccupation relief for 18 months with a 50% discount for new occupants of retail premises empty for a year or more; businesses will also be allowed to pay their bills over 12 months (rather than 10), which will help every firm with their cashflow.
To coincide with the measures, the Government will also consult on permitting change of use from retail to restaurants and retail to cinemas, gyms, skating rinks and swimming pools.
Consultation will also be opened on the installation of mezzanine floors in retail premises where this would support the town centre.
Mr Pickles, said: “The way we use our high streets is changing and the measures unveiled today give Councils more power to reflect that in the way their high streets look and operate.
“New tax breaks for shops and sensible changes to over-zealous parking rules will help make high streets more attractive to shoppers. And by providing excellent local services and offering communities a vibrant place to spend their leisure time and money, Local Authorities can secure the future of their High Streets for many years to come.“