DCLG rejects proposal to share business rates with parish and town councils
The government has turned down a proposal for a share of business rates to go to parish and town councils, which have accused ministers of ignoring local economic development despite their ‘localism’ rhetoric.
The proposal, from Sevenoaks Town Council, received support from over 400 local and national bodies including the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), who were “bitterly disappointed” but “not entirely surprised” at the decision.
The Department for Communities and Local Government minister, Stephen Williams MP, said in a letter responding to the proposal: “Government understands the wish of parish and town councils to secure a share of the business rates collected by billing authorities. However, all of this funding is required to help deliver the services for which the principal local authorities and major precepting authorities are responsible.”
Chairman of NALC, Councillor Ken Browse said: “I’m bitterly disappointed in this decision from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government, which took over six months to reach, although I’m not entirely surprised. They’ve failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to recognise and boost the economic development role of grassroots councils, and of town councils in particular. Our important part of local government has long argued for more radical reform of business rates, including during the resource review in 2011 and 2012, when the current government again said no.
“While the minister says parish and town councils ‘have a key role to play in our vision for localism’, this obviously does not include local economic development. Our councils will feel let down as this is increasingly the kind of activity they are supporting and funding from their resident levy, the precept, measures welcomed by local businesses. The Government needs to think again.”
Sevenoaks Town Council can challenge the government’s decision by referring it to the Selector who can request the Secretary of State reconsider his decision.