With the unveiling of the 2009 Budget just over a week away, the Government has been told to give small English companies a break from the increasing cost of business rates.
Small businesses in Northern Ireland will soon receive automatic rate relief of up to £1,200 a year, while companies in Wales have benefitted from a similar system since 2007.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believes the introduction of the scheme in England, which has been denied until now, could stem the tide of around 120 business closures every day.
Although business rates account for the third largest cost to small firms, many businesses in England fail to apply for relief as they are unaware they are entitled to do so.
Few local authorities publicise the scheme and thus, according to the FSB, the Treasury is sitting on £400 million of rate relief that should be given to struggling businesses across England.
"Small businesses deserve a break from this hefty tax," said FSB national chairman, John Wright.
"We are urging the Chancellor as part of our Budget submission to look at the precedents set in Northern Ireland and Wales, and allow this relief to be applied automatically."
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