AROUND 1500 small businesses throughout South Lakeland could be set to get up to £1,000 knocked off their annual business rates.

The Government's national retail rate relief scheme looks set to be adopted by South Lakeland District Council at a meeting in Kendal on Wednesday.

SLDC says it would amount to £1 million in support.

It would benefit firms with a rateable value of less than £50,000.

Businesses including shops, restaurants, hair salons, art galleries, post offices, petrol stations, cafes and pubs would be considered for relief.

The ‘retail relief’ does not have to be brought in and has been left to the discretion of local authorities.

It was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

Under the scheme, buildings with a rateable value of more than £50,000 would not receive relief and particular companies like banks, building societies, estate agents, doctors and solicitors would not be included.

The scheme would be in place over the next two years in South Lakeland so firms would also receive rates relief in 2015.

If adopted, relief will be awarded to qualifying businesses in bills going out in March.

Front bench Liberal Democrat Coun Sue Sanderson, portfolio holder for environment and people, said: “In these difficult financial times this new business rate relief scheme will provide a welcome bonus for the many excellent small and medium sized businesses in our district.

“We are keen to assist where we can and it is good we are able to give them this support.”

Alan Raven, Revenues and Benefits Manager for SLDC, said: “We are currently identifying businesses that qualify for the scheme. The council’s aim is to get the relief on bills that will go out in March. However, where this is not possible if the council is uncertain about the use of the property, there will be an opportunity to apply for the relief afterwards.

“Businesses will have to confirm to us that they meet the requirements of the scheme which are laid out by the Government. Rates relief is classed as state aid so we have to ensure that businesses do not contravene European Union rules on state aid.”

A Government spokesman said: “The retail sector is changing, particularly due to internet shopping, and many high streets are experiencing challenges as they look to adapt to changing consumer preferences in how people shop.

“The Government wishes to support town centres in their response by providing particular support to retailers.”

Qualifying businesses can also fill in an application form on their next rates bill and return it to the council.

Tim Farron MP, commented: “A £1000 retail discount will make a huge difference to small shops and local traders throughout South Lakeland."

“I’ll keep lobbying the Government to give them even more help and support.  Thriving small businesses mean a thriving local economy.”