Bristol Post campaigns for local control over business rates
Main Political parties are backing control of how business rates are spent. Recently Labour unveiled plans to allow local authorities that collect business rates to keep funds instead of sending to London.
Using the recent Growth deal which saw over £200 million in funds devolved through West England’s partnership, Mr Clare stated “It is very much the direction in which we are travelling at pace,” he said. “We want to go further but there are checks and balances which need to be there and there are still national services to pay for.”
Labour wants to pass an English Devolution Act which would transfer control of £30 billion of funding to England’s cities and Counties.
Councils that come together as a combined authority would have access to the Whitehall cash which could be used to promote the economy locally and further into the region.
Under this proposal, city and country regions would need to unite to deliver key infrastructure investments to drive regional growth.
Leeds MPs support Yorkshire Evening Post campaign
The Yep campaign calls for the Government to overhaul a business rates system that is pilling pressure on the country’s hard-working entrepreneurs. Rachel Reeves, a labour MP for Leeds West has praised the campaign stating the rates were placing “real pressure” on smaller shops and firms.
Ms Reeves went on to say “A Labour Government would cut business rates in 2015 and freeze them in 2016.”
Wakefield Council told the YEP: “It is completely unfair for a successful city like Leeds to be generating money but only keeping half of it.
“At present we don’t get much say at all in how the system works. If we were in charge of it, there would be more scope for flexibility, more scope for recognising the specific needs of individual areas within the city.
“I know people who are desperate to set up in business but they just cannot afford to do it. That’s why I’m in favour of the YEP campaign for change on this front.”
Devolution – Countering Thatcher’s Control over Local Authorities
In the wake of the Scottish Referendum a unique opportunity has arisen to look into what councils can do to distant themselves from the overpower clutches of Whitehall. Fredrick Douglas, a campaigner against slavery, once said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
It was Thatcher that turned the tides on how both domestic and business rates were collected. Before her reign local authorities were able to keep all rates they received locally.
It seems that the only way to get Whitehall to notice is to give a clear and present demand that local councils keep all business rates they raise locally.
Last year Swindon collected approximately £107m in business rates, however only £64.9m in grants were received back, showing a huge deficit. If Councils were able to keep all monies raised there would be no financial crisis in Swindon and there would be no proposal to close down seven Sure Start Centres.
Now councils can keep all rents they receive a new precedent has been set. There are huge disparities in wealth between regions so there would need to be a central government ‘top-up’ to councils on the basis of an assessment of levels of wealth!
1 in 5 shops empty in Welsh Town due to Business Rates
A Partition to save Llanelli Town Centre has pulled in over 1,000 signatures to cut business rates which have been cited by many as a key stumbling block for new businesses opening up. Last reviewed in 2010 the Welsh Government has no plans to look at them again until 2017.
The town has suffered with one in five shops empty according to the council. This has resulted in a rise in charity shops that are exempt from paying business rates.
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council said it managed very few of the empty properties and as such could do little to improve the situation by dropping rents.
He town has ranked second worst in Britain following an independent survey that looked at 500 towns – just ahead of Dudley.
Scotland supports its Towns and Town Centres
Business properties in Scotland have benefited from an extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
The plan includes:
- Putting the Health of Towns Centres at the heart of decision-making
- Expanding the Fresh Start Business rates relief scheme to pubs, hotels and restaurants.
- An increase of properties paying zero or reduced business rates. Up 4,000 from last year.
- Growth in number of Business Improvement Districts helping to support economic growth in Town Centres.
- Recognition of the role town centres play in the new National Planning Framework.
- A share of the £2.75 million in funding awarded to seven projects under the Town Centre Housing Fund, creating 82 Units for affordable Housing.
- A £186,000 grant to strengthen the role of the Scotland’s Towns Partnership as the ‘go-to’ body for advice on town centre development.
Across Scotland there is evidence of strong engagement and alignment of policies and actions to support one key feature of Scotland – its towns and town centres.