We’re reminding town traders that there is support available to help them and their businesses throughout the regeneration period.
Support has been offered via the local Business Association, following discussions with businesses last year, and is still available, but businesses must apply for this themselves.
This support includes access to local Section 47 Business Rates Relief, free consultancy support showing how to seek national Business Rates Relief from Vail Williams, and free marketing and advice through Love Wokingham. There is also an offer to pre-fund the Wokingham Business Association to set up a local Business Improvement District which will give businesses access to independent funding and other resources, plus our parking initiative Three after Three.
No maximum cap in our budget has been set for the Section 47 Business Rates support, as businesses are being assessed individually. Marketing staffing costs along with other resources, such as professional photography for businesses to use, are funded as required. There is also no cap on consultancy sessions with Vail Williams because we didn’t know how many businesses would come forward. We urge those who haven’t to come forward and take advantage of this opportunity.
We have no powers allowing businesses to avoid Business Rates, because these are a national tax controlled by Her Majesties Revenue and Customs. But we have approached John Redwood MP, on behalf of our local businesses, asking him to speed up the national process. The discount for Boots, Clarkes, John Wood Sports, and Strange the jewellers three years ago was a reduction through the national relief scheme supported by Vail Williams.
This support is free to businesses to give them the knowledge and tools to make their own discount claims. But if businesses choose to appoint Vail Williams or another third party to make the claim on their behalf, then this is a matter between the individual business and the company concerned. The council isn’t involved and therefore cannot comment on the costs that a company charges for its services.
We have fulfilled our statutory obligations under the Localism Act 2011 (Part 4 non-domestic rates) through the Section 47 Business Rates Relief scheme, but we’ve gone further by organising additional support, such as the advice from Vail Williams, and the marketing schemes mentioned above.
So, support has been made available, and still is. But only a handful of businesses have taken advantage of it. So we urge those businesses to do so if they haven’t yet.
Cllr Phillip Mirfin, executive member for regeneration