THERE is a glimmer of hope for struggling traders in the Test Valley.

Borough cabinet members are to debate whether or not to implement a government initiative offering temporary rate relief to the retail sector.

Up to £1,000 could be given to retailers and business owners in premises with rateable values below £50,000.

New businesses setting up in premises that have been empty for 12 months could also qualify for a 50 per cent rate reduction for up to 18 months.

Test Valley Borough Council claims that more than 600 businesses in its area could benefit from the scheme, which is aimed at shops, restaurants, cafés, pubs and clubs, petrol stations, garden centres, funeral directors and other retail outlets.

But it is down to local authorities to decide whether they administer the government’s rate relief scheme.

A government flood relief scheme is already in place across the UK to assist householder and business hit by the winter flooding.

Borough cabinet spokesperson for economicsg Peter Giddingsg said: “I welcome the Government’s scheme to provide some rate relief to retailers. The council has also introduced schemes to encourage retailers into our town centres.

“These moves both nationally and locally show that the efforts are being made to assist retailers generally and help those whose businesses have been affected by recent flooding. I look forward to presenting the revised discretionary rate relief policy to my cabinet colleagues.”

Mr Giddings is recommending his cabinet colleagues approved the scheme when they debate it on Tuesday.