Bassetlaw District Council has set the record straight on shop rates following complaints from residents that high rates were deterring businesses from Worksop.
Concerns have been raised that empty shops in the town centre have not been filled due to “unnecessarily high” rates, which many residents assume are set by the council.
Councillors have reiterated that these rates are set nationally by the government, and they are nonetheless attempting to attract businesses with the help of start-up grants.
Councillor Simon Greaves, Bassetlaw District Council leader, said: “Residents have shown concern regarding business rates and we would like to reiterate that while the council collects business rates on behalf of the government, the council is not responsible for setting them or the rateable value for retail properties.
“This is the responsibility of the government’s Valuation Office Agency and landlords are responsible for setting the rent of retail properties.”
Coun Greaves added: “The council is being very proactive with plans to improve Worksop town centre, attract investment in our high street and bring retailers to the town centre.
“Over the last few months, five new businesses have opened at the top end of Bridge Street and we are supporting this growth with the Welcome to Worksop scheme.
“By partnering with a local landlord, the scheme is able to offer a £2,500 discount on the rent of the property and also provide a £2,500 Enterprise Grant from the district council. We hope this will prove to be an incentive for landlords to let their empty properties and be a springboard for businesses to get a solid start in Worksop.
“We are also working closely with the Worksop Business Forum and activities through the town centre task force will continue in 2018.
“This is in addition to the £2.3 million of Heritage Lottery Funding and investment from the council and private sector that will restore buildings of historical significance at the top of Bridge Street.”
Philip Jackson, chairman of Worksop Business Forum said: “Business rates have always been a contentious issue, and in some cases they are the deciding factor when looking for or continuing to stay at a premises.”
He went on to explain how shop rates work: “Business rates are set by the government and the system is complex.
“As I understand it, the HM Valuation office set the rateable value of each property and use the property or rent value to arrive at that figure.
“The government set a national multiplier figure, this is used to calculate the rates payable.
“During this process a property is split up into zones in the case of shops the shop frontage is marked at a higher level, with the zone values descending the further you go down the shop.
“Once a rateable value is set the valuation office send the information to the Council for collection.
“The Council have no input as to how these figures are arrived at and simply collect the payments for the government.
“The government have not changed the figure at which rates are payable for small businesses- if a rateable value is less than £12,000 rates are not payable.
“Businesses will still receive an invoice with a zero figure to pay. We would always recommend that you carefully check the details of your rateable value and bill.”
Adam Hall owns comic book store Comic Quest, on Hardy Street.
He said: “I am lucky enough not to have to pay business rates as the rateable value of my shop falls below £12,000.
“Rates aren’t payable below £12,000, according to the government, and hopefully that won’t change any time soon.
“If I was to look at opening my business right on High Street, I would have had to have a serious think about opening the shop, as the cost would have been massive.
“I looked into it and weirdly rent and rates are about the same in Sheffield, a big city, as they are in Worksop - so it’s no wonder businesses get put off.
“I have to say that the council officers were extremely helpful when I set up shop and I have nothing but praise for them.”