By Claire West

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) today welcomed the Government's pledge to help make small business rate relief automatic.

Business rates are the third largest cost to many small firms and many are unaware they are entitled to rate relief, so it is a real win for the FSB and small businesses that the Government has put in steps to start to make this automatic.

The FSB has long been campaigning for rate relief to be made automatic. Every year, millions of pounds, calculated and ear- marked by the Treasury for eligible businesses, go unclaimed - even though this money poses no extra cost to the tax payer.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"After rent and wages, rates are the biggest cost to many businesses and steps to help small firms automatically get the relief they are entitled to is welcome news. We have long been calling for small business rate relief to be made automatic and this cash injection will be of great help to many small businesses.

"The onus is now on councils to be creative and not needlessly make small businesses go through an application process when it is obvious they are eligible. We have developed excellent relations with councils across the country through our small business engagement accord and we will be urging them to use their new powers to ensure that all small businesses receive the relief that they are entitled to."