Welcome relief for Welwyn Hatfield Traders

TRADERS and borough councillors have welcomed news of a reprieve from the burgeoning costs of the recession. After increasing annual business rates by five per cent, the Government has now made a last-minute pledge to help companies meet rising overheads.

TRADERS and borough councillors have welcomed news of a reprieve from the burgeoning costs of the recession.

After increasing annual business rates by five per cent, the Government has now made a last-minute pledge to help companies meet rising overheads.

Local authorities have no influence over business rates, which are set by central Government. Councils simply collect the money and send it on to Whitehall, where it is then redistributed on a per capita basis to local authorities. Welwyn Hatfield continues to receive far less than its companies contribute.

A new initiative will now allow companies to defer up to 60 per cent of the annual increase, which came into effect on April 1, over the next two years.


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It means if a company's increased business rate was �50,000, it would then be allowed to pay �30,000 of this over a period of 24 months.

Welwyn Hatfield Council welcomed the move.

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Councillor Alan Franey, executive member for resources, said: "The council is very pleased to be in a position to help local businesses to offset some of their expenses for 2009.

"Hopefully this initiative will enable local businesses to prosper during this national period of economic hardship and help them continue trading.

"It is also anticipated the Government will provide adequate funds to ensure the burden does not fall on local council tax payers," he added.

But Tim Hutchings, chief executive of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, said the Government should never have raised rates in the first place.

"First and foremost, we're disappointed the Government has seen fit to raise the rates," he said. "We think they're just adding more misery to small businesses, but any help is welcome.

"Local authorities don't have much leeway in the matter to be fair to them, but at least they have tried to do their bit."

Businesses need to inform Welwyn Hatfield Council if they wish to defer payments, otherwise companies will be charged the full amount.

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