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Business group urges automatic rates relief

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The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the government to make the rates relief to which small firms are entitled automatic.

At the moment businesses must apply to their local authorities to claim the relief which could amount to as much as £1,200.

The FSB argued that more than half of small businesses miss out on claiming the relief because they are unaware they are entitled to do so.

Business rates are the third largest cost to small firms, after salaries and rent, the FSB continued, yet few local authorities publicise the rate relief scheme.

The FSB also pointed that rate relief has been automatic in Wales since 2007, while it is to become so in Northern Ireland.

In England, however, some £400 million of relief is unused.

John Wright, the national chairman of the FSB, said: “Small businesses deserve a break from this hefty tax. We are urging the Chancellor as part of our Budget submission to look at the precedents set in Northern Ireland and Wales and allow this relief to be applied automatically.

“The Budget could be make or break for small businesses. With around 120 businesses going bust a day it is crucial that immediate action is taken to sustain their cash flow. Introducing automatic rate relief will help free up vital cash.”