The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed a government announcment that will cut unnecessary red tape for thousands of retailers.

Local government minister Phil Woolas confirmed that businesses will only need to apply once every five years for small business rate relief. Previously, small businesses were required to apply every year.
The announcement follows a consultation on streamlining the arrangements for applying for small business rate relief, which was introduced in April 2005.

ACS government affairs manager Shane Brennan told Convenience Store: "We certainly welcome the changes. It's a sensible way to provide a greater certainty for small businesses and is sure to help independent retailers."

Under the revised scheme, retailers eligible for relief will be required to apply for for the 2007/08 financial year and will not be required to apply again until the next revaluation in 2010/11, provided their circumstances do not change.

The scheme gives 50% rate relief for properties with rateable values up to £5,000. For higher rateable value properties, the percentage of relief tapers off gradually, with no relief granted for properties with a rateable value of more than £10,000.

Small business minister Margaret Hodge added: "This is great news for the 400,000 small businesses using this scheme. It is a good example of government listening to business, cutting red tape and providing the best possible conditions for business success in today's global economy."