APRIL 17, 2009: The Federation of Small Businesses is urging the government to take action in this month’s Budget to save vital rural firms who are struggling during the recession.

It is pressing for a rural recession rate relief scheme to run for 12 months and then be reviewed to see whether an extension is needed. The FSB’s proposed scheme would involve a top up from the Treasury of the non domestic rates pool to enable local authorities to offer 100 per cent rate relief to vital small, rural businesses in towns and villages. The call comes after a survey of more than 300 FSB member businesses based in rural communities showed over 80 per cent were seeing costs rise and 46 per cent seeing trade decreasing. According to the FSB, the third largest expenditure to small businesses is their business rates bill. “Rural businesses have been quietly suffering during these testing times just as much as big, city businesses – but behind the dramatic headlines of big business failures,” said Linda Walton, FSB’s rural affairs chairman. “These figures prove that the collapse of one small firm in a small town or village can have a devastating impact on the entire community.”Rural businesses need help. With one in three small firms in rural areas concerned about their financial prospects over the next six months, the government must take action to keep the heart of the village community alive. “The rural recession rate relief scheme we are putting forward could be the difference between the death of small rural communities or their survival.”

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