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Support is growing for a Private Members Bill introduced by Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, and pioneered by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Over 100 MPs have now backed the bill by signing an Early Day Motion calling for rate relief to be made automatic for eligible firms.

The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 6 March.

The FSB is working with Mr Luff who is also Chairman of the Business and Enterprise Committee on the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill, which would see rate relief granted automatically to those firms that are entitled to it.

Exemption from paying business rates, which already happens automatically in Wales, could be worth up to £1,200 and would be an important saving and could help small businesses with their cash flow.

Business rates are the third largest cost to small firms, after salaries and rent. Yet, many small businesses are unaware they are entitled to rate relief because their local authorities do not publicise it well enough. Every year, around £400 million goes unclaimed, even though this money poses no extra cost to the Government or tax payer.

Members of the FSB will be taking action across the country to ask their MPs to champion their case for automatic rate relief by signing the Early Day Motion and supporting the Bill on the day of the debate. The nationwide campaign is also being supported by the steering group of the Local Works coalition as well as other business organisations.

Mr Luff said,

“I am delighted at the strong and growing support the Bill is gaining both in the House of Commons and in the wider world; it shows how many people and organisations agree that it is an important measure that could really make the difference for many small businesses.”

FSB National Chairman John Wright said,

"It is great to see increased support for this Bill, which demonstrates a general consensus of the importance of this relief for small businesses during these tough times. After rent and wages, rates are the biggest cost to a business and automatically getting the relief they are entitled to would be extremely welcome. During the recession, this cash injection could save many small businesses from laying off staff or closing down completely.

"Our members will be contacting their MPs to support their call for automatic rate relief – one of the key issues the FSB has been calling for in its Keep Trade Local campaign over the past year."

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