BUSINESS owners in Northwich and Winsford will be given a discount of up to £1,000 on their premises thanks to a council initiative.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is introducing the grants from April, which will provide relief to businesses who move into previously long-term empty premises.

The reoccupation relief forms part of the council’s strategy of bringing empty shops in town centres back into use.

Clr Les Ford, executive member for resources, said: “This is really great news for our small to medium-sized businesses operating within the borough and I am delighted that businesses which may have been feeling the squeeze will soon see a real saving on their outgoings.

“Government announced changes to the country’s businesses rates system last year and we are now in a position to implement these new reliefs for the benefit of our local businesses.”

The council estimated that more than 1,700 local businesses will benefit from retail rate relief discount and by using the rating information already held by the council, the £1,000 discount will be included on business rate bills being issued in March 2014.

The discount will also apply the following year.

The grants will be given to businesses on the requirement that the premises used as either shops, restaurants, cafes or drinking establishments and the rateable value of the premises must not surpass £50,000.

The council will also grant a discount of 50 per cent to any business which moves into any retail premises that has been empty for a year or more.

The discount will be subject to state aid limits, available for 18 months, and will apply to any business which moves into long-term empty retail premises between Tuesday, April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2016.