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Struggling traders given a rates lifeline
A DOZEN struggling Southend town centre businesses have been given an unexpected lifeline.
Southend Council has agreed to give five pubs, four nightclubs and three shops extra time to pay their business rates.
The deal means they will be allowed to clear what they owe from the previous financial year – which should have been paid by Friday – in the next few months instead, warding off the threat of bankruptcy.
Andrew Moring, councillor responsible for tax collection, said the move was evidence of the council’s forward-thinking, and forgiving attitude.
He added: “I’m glad we are able to give a little extra time to these businesses. We are not the bad guys here.
“We want businesses to thrive and, if they simply have a cash-flow problem, we are happy to help.”
The council collects business rates on behalf of the Government.
The levy, which is based on the value of a company’s property, is meant to be paid in instalments during the financial year, in the same way as council tax.
However, the 12 Southend businesses, which have not been named, struggled to keep up with their payments in 2011/12. Rather than force them into liquidation, in order to collect council bosses have agreed to take out court liability orders.
The orders give the companies an indefinite amount of extra time to pay up, but also gives the council the right to call in the bailiffs if the companies renege on the agreement.
One nightclub owner, who did not want to be named, said the move had saved his business.
He added: “I’m very grateful to the council for this.
“In my case, I’m confident I can pay, but because our business can be so seasonal, my cash-flow is erratic throughout the year.
“This gives me the extra time I need.”