AS a rise in business rates continues to hit Witney firms, one company has revealed how council support helped it weather the storm.

Many retailers in the town have experienced difficulties since rates were raised by the Government in April – a move that led the owner of Domino Menswear to decide to leave the town and move to Abingdon after 34 years.

But a printing firm that was facing a rates hike of nearly £8,000 a year has spoken out about how it was supported by West Oxfordshire District Council's discretionary rate relief scheme.

The boss of Fineprint, which employs 60 staff in Range Road, was pleased to learn the business would receive about £5,000 from the scheme to help it cope.

Managing director, Dan Bakewell, said: “The district council made us aware of the relief available and it was a very easy form to complete.

"After that we did not have to do anything and we received the new assessment.

“Having the impact of the rates rise reduced has really helped the business.”

The Government has allocated £300m for local authorities to create discretionary relief schemes to help those affected by the rates rise.

Business which have a rateable value of less than £200,000 and facing a rates increase of more than £600 this year are eligible to apply for the scheme.

Funding available for local authorities is expected to last four years, but the amount will reduce each year.

Deputy leader of the council, Toby Morris, said the local authority had written to 500 business that may benefit from the scheme, but was disappointed by the response thus far.

A number of firms in Witney have raised concerns about their future in the town following the sharp rises in their rates that many have experienced since April.

In addition to Domino Menswear, in Corn Street, the owners of Rosa Flowers and Renaissance vintage clothing store in Wesley Walk have raised concerns about the future of their businesses following the hike.

Business rates are worked out on a property's 'rateable value' – its open market rental value on April 1, 2015, based on an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency.

These values are reviewed once every seven years, and many businesses in the Witney area saw large rises during the most recent valuation, which came into effect in April.

Business owners who think they may be eligible for relief should contact the council on 01993 861070.

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