OVER 1,000 small businesses and charities in York will benefit from £700,000 in business rate relief over the next few months,the City of York Council has agreed.

Council leader Cllr David Carr, agreed that no business or charity with a rateable value below £200,000 will have to pay an increase in their business rates in 2017/18.

The decision follows a recent business rates revaluation exercise carried out by central government, which saw many businesses facing rates rising 12.5 per cent or more.

The decision will mean that £700,000 in Government money will be automatically redistributed to businesses across the city, without the need for an application process.

Cllr David Carr said: “Adopting this policy in York means that we can support over 1,000 businesses and charities across the city, not only benefiting them, but the wider York economy as well.

“Applying the relief automatically prevents the need for a time-consuming application process and ensures that no qualifying business or charity misses out.”

York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce president Bridget Davies said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the country’s economy and the chamber welcomes the City of York Council’s initiative to support small businesses and charities in York by freezing their business rates.”

Sarah Armstrong, chief executive of York CVS, said: “This is a good news for smaller charities. Any business rate relief will be very welcome. For it to be given automatically without the need to apply is even better.”

However, Phil Pinder of Cuffs and Co shop in Shambles, the chairman of the York Retail Forum, says that although he welcomes the news, he says more action is needed to protect York’s unique economy of independent and small retailers.

“The Chancellor Phil Hammond didn’t go far enough and high street retailers are still losing out to online. I hope York will weather the storm with its seven million tourism footfall as it’s pretty grim for retailers. We need a revolutionary rates overhaul.”

And Cllr Johnny Hayes, who with his wife runs Frankie and Johnny’s Cookshop in Bishopthorpe Road said there may be a freeze for some very small businesses, but by no means all.

“In the recent review of rates by central government there are some small businesses that have received increases that will be of up to 600 per cent. These will be introduced over the next few years but the predicted increases can be eye wateringly high.”

He believes it would be fairer if business rates were assessed differently.

“The rates are determined largely by the notional value of the property,” he said.

“But is this a fair way to determine how you should pay? Surely the turnover of the business would be a much better means of determining the rates businesses have to pay.”

He added that he and his wife pay almost the same rate per square metre as Tesco at Askham Bar.

He added: “So although I am delighted that the very smallest businesses may get some relief from the very high level of rates. it is not universal by any means.”