By Daniel Hunter

Official statistics show more tax relief is being given to small shops and firms to help with their business rates bills.

The new figures show that the level of small business rate relief has trebled since the general election, thanks to government initiatives. Rate relief in England has risen from £333 million in 2009 to 2010, to £507 million in 2010 to 2011, to £784 million in 2011 to 2012 and now to £900 million in 2012 to 2013.

The government has doubled small business rate relief from October 2010 until April 2014, to help an estimated half a million small firms and shops. Small firms are receiving 100% rate relief (ie pay no business rates at all) on properties up to £6,000 rateable value, and a tapered rate relief from £6,000 to £12,000.

In addition, the Localism Act 2011 has made it easier for small firms and shops to claim small business rate relief, by ensuring all eligible ratepayers can automatically receive the small business multiplier, and has removed the legal red tape requiring ratepayers to fill in paperwork to claim the relief.

"Small firms and shops are at the heart of our local communities, and we are supporting them to help the economy grow," Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said.

"These figures show clearly that this government’s policy of cutting both taxes and red tape for small firms, supports local traders and entrepreneurs across the country."

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