AFTER more than six months, Trafford Council has begun allocating its share of the £300 million business rates hardship fund.

The relief funding was announced by the Chancellor at the Spring Budget, introduced to local authorities to help lessen the impact of April’s revaluation of business rates, which saw many firms’ bills rocket.

There are three elements to the relief measures and, according to Government figures released on October 13, Trafford Council was among seven out of 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester that had not begun allocating the fund.

Since, Trafford council say that they have started the re-bill process and the delay was due to software changes.

Robert Downes, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in GM, said: “This name and shame list is concerning. Many small firms were left fearing for their futures after April’s rates revaluation.

“All councils should have every relief measure in place by now. If the cash is there to be paid out, there’s simply no excuse."

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “Trafford are pleased to announce that re-billing has now started. It was not possible to begin re-billing until software changes had been implemented. In addition, the council decided it was necessary to amend our original Business Rates Discretionary Rate Relief Policy to ensure we maximised the funding available, and were able to give local businesses the best possible financial benefits.

"Through our revised policy, which was formally in place from October 2, we are now awarding eligible pubs and small businesses more generously than the Department of Communities in Local Government guidance put forward.”

Cllr Patrick Myers, executive member for corporate resources, said: “The Relief Fund will benefit those firms hardest hit by the revaluation of their business rates. The council is committed to supporting all the businesses in our town centres, and has additionally been investing significantly to improve the public realm, reduce vacancy rates and support private sector investment.”

Robert Downes responded: “This is certainly belated good news for those businesses in Trafford due some cash back, but many will rightly be asking was it fair they’ve had to wait so long?

“These are tough times for many small firms who need all the help they can get, especially with such an unfair and out-of-date tax as business rates. Many of the businesses affected will doubtless agree a six-month wait for money that’s rightfully theirs, is an unacceptable wait.

“I wish I could say it’s a case of ‘better late than never’ for all concerned, however, I suspect rebates for some may have come too late to save them. I would urge businesses who believe they are owed a sum to make contact with the council ASAP to have their case expedited.”