A SCHEME which could see 1,700 York businesses pay up to £1,000 less a year in rates will be discussed by city leaders next week, in the hope it will bring empty shops back into use.

The Government-funded scheme applies to all retail properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less in 2014/15 and the following year.

Businesses must be wholly or mainly used as a shop, restaurant, cafe or drinking establishment and the retail rate relief would run for two years from April.

The issue will go before City of York Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

Coun Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for finance, said: “It would be a great incentive for businesses to move into any unoccupied properties in the city.

“Accepting the relief could bring as much as £1 million into York, helping to sustain employment and encourage growth in the city’s economy.”

The retail rate relief is considered to be state funding and would be subject to European rules covering this area, with any business which wants to claim having to apply to the council and complete a state aid declaration form.