With footfall dropping and property prices rising, rate relief is one area where pressure on the high street and on retailers could be reduced.
Financial incentives like this can help high street retailers in particular, to fight back.
The Beattie Partnership in Manchester are helping retailers by tackling the red tape surrounding these schemes, and demand has certainly been keeping them busy.
With trade increasingly moving online and rental costs jumping year on year, high street traders are being squeezed from all sides. Last Christmas, 20% of all retail took place online. Across the UK, around 14% of retail units now stand empty, making town centres a less welcoming place to congregate and shop.
In recent years, both national and local government have sought to address and reverse this trend.
While the 2012 report “The Future of High Streets” led to the Portas Project and a cash injection for some areas, the real improvements and intervention has happened behind the scenes.
Rate Relief Offered by Many Local Authorities
To ease the financial burden of running a high street business, many local authorities now offer rate relief and support to certain retail businesses. The short term Retail Relief scheme, running to the end of the 2015/16 tax year, could see thousands wiped off the rate bills paid by some businesses.
The discretionary relief offers a £2,000 discount per site over 2 years on properties up to £50,000 rateable value and can be granted across multiple sites up to State Aid limits, so this could really be a welcome boost for retailers. The definition of retail can be quite far reaching, for example, including uses such as restaurants, pubs, tool hire and car showrooms.
There are also additional savings for retailers occupying new sites that were formerly vacant and a temporary relaxing of the “one property rule” relating to Small Business Rates Relief.
While Rate Relief could be a massive boost to many shops, the complicated rules involved can make it tricky to establish whether your business qualifies for help.
Property Aspects Magazine spoke with Paul Giness, Partner at The Beattie Partnership, a chartered surveyor who specialise in helping retailers make use of such schemes.
Paul said: “Retailers have to deal with so much noise in their day-to-day activities, and perhaps feel bombarded with different initiatives. We know that some struggle to decipher what relates to them and what doesn’t. This relief could be really helpful for those who feel overwhelmed with their rates burden, and could ease their bills significantly”.
He added: “Although Rate Relief, and other schemes of this kind, can seem tricky to navigate, it’s an area where perseverance really does pay off. The help is there if you need it”.
With many firms now taking advantage of an ever-increasing set of government incentives, an improving economy putting money back into shopper’s hands, and an increasing disillusion with supermarkets, the tide may yet turn back to the high street.
Property Aspects Magazine appreciates the contribution to this article from Paul Giness at The Beattie Partnership.