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 firms moving in to previously empty shops.

The aim is to 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 also move in before the end of the scheme in March 2016.

SLDC’s cabinet agreed to adopt the Business Rates Re-occupation Relief idea at a meeting earlier this month.


Coun Giles Archibald, portfolio holder for town centres and small business, speaking at the cabinet meeting, said: “This is a good scheme and we should welcome it .

“I am also pleased to see that there is strong cross party support for this initiative.’’

At the same meeting South Lakeland District Council leader Peter Thornton said: “This is something that is being offered by the Government and it is fully funded so frankly we would be mad not to adopt it.’’

The council will now look to grant the relief to qualifying ratepayers applying under the scheme.

Central government will fully reimburse SLDC for the cost to the council.

Council officers are now working 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 call SLDC on 01539-793245.