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Retail Trade

Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department in taking to encourage small independent businesses located in urban high streets. (282943)

The tougher economic conditions have made us more determined to help SMEs. We have met with business organisations and businesses across the country to discuss the problems they are facing and to ensure that their views are reflected in Government action. The Government's package of support—Real Help—focuses on those top priorities—cash flow, access to finance, higher bank charges and costs and training.

In April the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport jointly published “Looking After Our Town Centres”, which sets out the range of powers, guidance and approaches that can help local authorities and their partners promote the vitality and viability of town centres, and explains additional steps that the Government are taking to enable further positive action to be taken, particularly through the temporary use of empty shops. The guide can be downloaded from:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/towncentres

Small independent shops (and other businesses) occupying a sole property with a rateable value below £15,000 may benefit from small business rate relief. For the businesses occupying the smallest properties, this can mean a saving of up to 50 per cent. of their business rates.