AS we put February behind us - and sadly some fantastic weather - we head in to March, when council tax bills arrive.

Again, SDC has managed to keep the amount residents pay for services down, so that the average Band D household pays just an extra 12p per week compared to last year.

It’s worth pointing out that while we are a collecting authority, most of the money collected is for GCC services, plus precepts from the Police & Crime Commissioner, and parishes and towns.

An average household in the district will pay £35.39 per week in council tax from April, £3.99 of which will go directly to us.

SDC provides services including waste and recycling which is rated as the best in the south west, environmental health, parking, Selsley Common, parks, two leisure centres, a museum, canal restoration, animal welfare, benefits administration and advice, elections, youth work, licensing, planning services and flood management, and more besides for that £3.99.

We have the lowest rise of all services which draw on the council tax bill.

This week sees strategy and resources committee meet to consider a measure which could make a real difference for small businesses.

After the Government announced that it would provide business rates discounts for retail properties over the next two years, the committee is being asked to resolve to approve implementation of the Business Rates Retail Discount Scheme - discounts will be available for properties being used for retail purposes with a rateable value of less than £51,000, and businesses should get one third off their business rates bills.

At a time when the high street is facing an ever-growing challenge from online, it’s important that we do all we can to support businesses.

The same committee will also be looking at how to consider allocating money from the Business Rates 100% Retention Pilot, of which Gloucestershire is a member in 2018/19. This scheme sees a much greater proportion of rates retained centrally rather than being returned to central government. However it’s worth pointing out that the sum we as a council is expected to receive is much less than the funding gap which we are likely to face over the next few years due to reduced Government grant – so it’s really important we choose to invest in the right areas to preserve the council services which our residents value.