MORE than 40 per cent of small businesses in eastern England are missing out on money that could make the difference between staying afloat and going bankrupt, a new survey by the Local Government Association has revealed. A snapshot survey of local councils in England has revealed that under half of all businesses that could qualify for Small Business Rate Relief, and cut their bills by up to \u00A32,500, have failed to apply for it. Eastern businesses are more astute than most, but still only 57 per cent of eligible businesses are taking up relief. Across the country around \u00A3400million relief is left unclaimed, the LGA says. Chairman Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said: "Small businesses up and down the country are facing immense difficulties keeping their heads above water. Hundreds of millions of pounds is sitting around waiting to be claimed by hard pressed bosses of small firms. "When local businesses are facing rising costs, it is vital that they apply for the tax relief that they are entitled to. "Many thousands of businesses are entitled to a tax rebate that could make the difference between business as usual and bust. ""Many of the shops that face the biggest cost increases are the very ones that the local community depends on. They have nothing to lose by contacting their local council as they could see their rates bill slashed by half." INFORMATION: Small Business Rate Relief came into effect in April 2005. Eligible businesses with rateable values of below \u00A35,000 will get 50 per cent rate relief on their liability. The relief is available to ratepayers with either one property or one main property and other additional properties, providing the additional properties do not have individual rateable values of more than \u00A32,200, and the combined rateable value of all the properties is under \u00A315,000.