A SCHEME to encourage businesses to move into empty shops has been adopted by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).

The Government announced in its Autumn statement it would provide 50 per cent rate relief for 18 months to businesses moving in to previously empty shops.

It is hoped it will help stimulate high streets and support new business start-ups.

The units must have been empty for 12 months or longer immediately before becoming re-occupied, and the new business must move in before the end of the scheme in March 2016.

SLDC’s Cabinet agreed to adopt the Business Rates Re-occupation Relief Scheme at a meeting last week.

The council will look to grant the relief to qualifying ratepayers applying under the scheme, and central government will fully reimburse SLDC for the cost to the council.

Council officers will now work to list the number of properties in the district that would qualify for the rate relief.

The new use of the re-occupied premises can be for any type of business, except for betting shops, payday loan shops and pawnbrokers.

Anyone who would like to discuss the scheme should speak to a SLDC officer on 01539 793245.