COUNCILS are failing small businesses by giving unclear or incorrect information about their entitlement to rate relief, it is claimed.

Marcus Andrews, pictured right, of Dorset-based Goadsby said none of the area’s councils were fully setting out the true position on Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR).

The relief scheme was introduced in 2005 and revised twice in 2010.

One hundred per cent rates relief has applied since October 2010 to businesses which have only one property, the rateable value of which is less than £6,000.

From April to September that year, the figure was 50 per cent. Other ratepayers are allowed a sliding scale SBBR for rateable values up to £12,000 and the scheme will run for at least another 12 months.

Businesses can also apply if they have more than one unit, provided the rateable value of the smaller unit is under £2,600 and the combined total of them all is under £18,000.

For companies that have been at the same premises for four years, the average refund will be several thousand pounds, Mr Andrews said.

He said there were millions of pounds’ worth of unclaimed refunds across the country.

Claims can be made by email or phone call and council websites demanding that a form is filled in are wrong, he added.

Mr Andrews said no council website in Dorset made it clear that there was a right to make backdated claims to April 2010.

“Buried in Bournemouth is the fact that some 100 per cent relief exists,” he said.

“Poole’s is clearer. All of the other authorities around here, for example East Dorset, Purbeck and North Dorset District Council’s, don’t refer to the October 2010 changes.

“These were brought in by the coalition government and increased SBRR to 100 per cent from October 2010, for rateable values under £6,000.

“The websites still mention 50 per cent, which only applied for six months.”