Only a handful of local authorities have taken advantage of powers to create bespoke business rate discount schemes in their areas.

According to the Local Government Chronicle, just 18 of the 326 eligible councils have introduced discretionary rate relief schemes, meaning 95%have rejected the new powers which were introduced under the Localism Act.

West Lancashire council has introduced such a scheme in a bid to revive local high streets. Under the scheme, retailers which occupy a vacant retail unit will receive an 80% discount on business rates for up to a year and up to £5,000.

Cannock Chase council in Staffordshire has introduced a business rate discount scheme using the £100,000 it received from the government’s high street innovation fund. Eligible businesses will receive a 100% discount on their rates for the first 12 months, or a £10,000 contribution, whichever is lower. The council is also encouraging landlords to match its rates discount, or offer businesses a rent-free period.