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Shop owner welcomes business rate windfall

And the discretionary relief windfall has allowed her to take on two new part-time staff and to open seven days a week.

Four years ago, when she first opened Fairies and Frogs in Ampthill, Luan (pictured) managed to halve her rates through Small Business Rate Relief.

Now she is thrilled at the latest reduction, from £1,300 to £178, and the recruitment of new staff means that she can catch up on paperwork and spend more time with her family.

 “I had no idea that this retail discount was due to me and it is fantastic,” said Luan, who is also chair of Ampthill Chamber of Trade. “This means that I can offer some part-time work to local mums and it allows me some time with my kids.”

Centrral Bedfordshire Council officers have assessed every business rates bill in the authority area to ensure that all qualifying businesses receive the discount.

Deputy leader Cllr Maurice Jones, who is also executive member, corporate resources, said: “It is great that Fairies and Frogs were able to benefit from this measure.

"We recognise the importance of small businesses to the economy of Central Bedfordshire and this case shows how looking after them can create jobs.”

Ian Cording, chair of the Bedfordshire branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “Our members tell us that business rates are a real issue for them. Sometimes they pay more in business rates than they do in rent and as it is the one form of taxation that is not related to the ability to pay, it affects our members disproportionately.”

The FSB is lobbying local authorities to follow Central Bedfordshire Council’s lead and to offer the discretionary relief .

“As in this case, many small businesses will put the discount back into the economy by spending locally or employing more local people,” said Mr Cording.

Luan said: “I know that many small businesses owners like me work seven days a week so any extra help is gratefully received.” 

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