Kirklees Council has stepped in to fund the Business Improvement District (BID) levy for some Huddersfield town centre businesses.
Some businesses had expressed concern about paying the extra charge after a year in which the town centre has been badly impacted by Covid-19.
BID levy payers from independent businesses in retail, hospitality, leisure and accommodation which have been required to close since last November as part of Covid-19 restrictions are to benefit from the move.
The levy charge could be paid for both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The council will use funds from the Discretionary Grant Scheme to further support these businesses as they continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
BIDs are business-led partnerships that promote and improve town centres. They are funded through a levy on business rate payers, in addition to their business rates bill.
These projects are designed to improve the local trading environment and, in Huddersfield, have helped with extra safety and security plus cleansing and environmental measures.
Those businesses identified for the funding support that have already paid their BID levy will be refunded.
David Shepherd, strategic director for Growth and Economy, said: “It’s vital we continue to support local businesses in their effort to survive the pandemic. We owe it to them to direct all available funding where it is needed most.
“I’m delighted we can offer additional support for smaller, independent businesses, so they can focus on bouncing-back.
“These businesses help to create the diversity of our retail and hospitality offer in the town centre. This is crucial for attracting footfall back into the town centre once it’s safe to do so, and so start our economic recovery.
“The funding builds on the already extensive support the council offers to new and established businesses, through advice, funding, and other support that helps business resilience and growth.”
Matthew Chapman, manager of Huddersfield BID, added: “The BID welcomes this support from the council that will enable us to plan for 2021/22 with certainty and deliver a full programme of activity.
“The BID’s work to create and promote a vibrant town centre, support local businesses, and ensure the centre is safe and accessible for residents and visitors has never been more important.
“We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the council to ensure Huddersfield town centre bounces back in the best possible way in 2021.”
The measure compliments the Chancellor’s decision to extend the Expanded Retail Discount business rate relief scheme. Under the scheme, eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses will receive a 100% business rates relief from April 1 to June 30 2021, dropping to 66% relief until March 31 2022.
The authority also continues to distribute government Covid-19 support grants, paying out more than £141million since the pandemic began.