§ Ms Armstrong
I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Competitiveness on 20 January 2000,Official Report, columns 519–20W.
Some support to sub post offices is currently provided through the non-domestic rating system. The sole post office or shop in a designated rural area is entitled to 50 per cent. mandatory relief from non-domestic rates, provided its rateable value is less than £5,000. Local authorities have discretionary powers to provide further relief up to 100 per cent. of the full rates bill for these and other properties in designated rural areas, with rateable values less than £10,000.
We are also considering the suggestion in the Report of the Urban Task Force, "Towards an Urban Renaissance", that there should be rate reductions for small retailers in designated urban priority areas.
In the 1998 White Paper "Modernising Local Government: In Touch With The People" we announced a general rate relief scheme for all small non-domestic properties, which will include small post offices in urban and rural areas. We aim to consult shortly on the details of this scheme.