INDEPENDENT shops are to benefit from a rate relief scheme that aims to pump £1.4 million back into the district’s economy.

Cotswold District Council (CDC) has adopted the Government scheme but said it would not be available to some chain stores.

Charity shops in the Cotswolds will also be exempt, as member’s of CDC’s cabinet said there was already a number of relief schemes available to the charity sector.

“The good news here is that we’re putting money back into the economy through this,” said leader of CDC Councillor Lynden Stowe. “Businesses will be paying less too.

“Charity shops do a very good job but they already receive mandatory relief. I recommend that we do not extend this scheme to them.”

The decision on whether to allow charity shops to join the scheme was decided by cabinet members who backed the leader.

“I support the view not to extend the scheme to charity shops. At the moment they have a significant advantage over the non-charity sector,” said Councillor Nick Parsons.

Following the cabinet’s decision Cllr Stowe said: “This rate relief scheme will be an extremely welcome boost for many retailers both in this district, and across the country, especially since the money saved can be ploughed back into a range of initiatives to stimulate more trade.

“The economy in the Cotswolds was remarkably resilient during the recession with fewer empty shops than many other areas. It is very encouraging that measures are now being put in place to help so many businesses thrive again.

“We created a £25,000 fund last week to help increase demand for car parking, and footfall in shops, during quiet times. We will be joining forces with town councils and chambers of commerce to make this work, and I am confident that this new rate relief scheme will help our cause immensely.”

Eligible businesses will be contacted by CDC.