BUSINESSES moving into empty retail premises in York could receive 50 per cent discount on their rates in a move aimed at stimulating a thriving city centre.

City of York Council’s cabinet is being asked to approve the Government’s reoccupation rate relief scheme when it meets on Tuesday next week.

The scheme was outlined in the Autumn Statement last year, when the chancellor announced a 50 per cent business rates discount to business moving into previously empty retail premises between April 1 this year and March 23, 2016. The relief will be available to to businesses over their first 18 month in the premises, provided that the building had previously stood empty for at least 12 months.

The council has revealed there is a total of 43 premises in York that would qualify for the Reoccupation Rate Relief scheme.

The authority’s head of financial procedures David Walker said: “The Government’s purpose of this new relief is to encourage thriving and diverse town centres and it wants to see the number of vacant shops decrease.

“This relief is intended to encourage reoccupation of shops and other retail premises that have been empty for a long period of time and reward businesses that make this happen.

“In respect of unoccupied properties this relief may act as a real incentive to new business. There are also additional fully funded reliefs that a ‘reoccupying’ business new or existing could benefit from including retail rate relief and small business rate relief.

“The raft of business rate reliefs now available provides a real incentive to reoccupy empty former retail premises, create employment and grow the York economy.”

The scheme comes at no cost to the council with the any relief offered fully reimbursed by Government through the rates retention system. If the scheme is approved this evening, businesses which to claim relief will need to make an application to the council.