RETAIL shops facing competition from online and out-of-town traders could receive a £1,000 shot in the arms from Test Valley Borough Council rate relief.

On Wednesday the council’s Cabinet is to consider the implementation of a Government scheme to offer rate relief to the retail sector which could see the award of up to £1,000 of rate relief to retailers in premises with a rateable value under £50,000.

In addition, retailers who move into premises which have been empty for a year could qualify for 50 per cent rate relief for up to 18 months.

The Cabinet will consider the implementation of this scheme when Government guidance is received.

Councillor Peter Giddings, economic portfolio holder, said: “The council has also introduced schemes to encourage retailers into our town centres.

“These moves both nationally and locally show the efforts being made to assist retailers generally and help those whose businesses have been affected by recent flooding.

“I look forward to presenting the revised discretionary rate relief policy to my Cabinet colleagues.”

These schemes could benefit 600 business rate payers in the borough with as much as £800,000 being awarded and are aimed at shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments and will run for two years.

Retail rate relief is being introduced in recognition of the changing face of the high street with the growth of internet shopping and the need to adapt to changing consumer shopping habits.

The council says the Government scheme dovetails with the various initiatives the council has been implementing to encourage footfall through its independent retailer grants, business incentive grants and Andover Summit and Romsey Future projects.

This scheme is in addition to Business Rate Flooding Relief scheme for those businesses in Environment Agency flood warning areas that may have been flooded.