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15.06.16

Future business rates system must focus on place not institutions, says DCN chair

Any new system for assessing the share of business rates in the future should be designed around ‘place’ and delivering better outcomes for communities, rather than having a focus on institutions, the chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) has said.

Responding to the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee’s interim report into business rates devolution, Cllr Neil Clarke MBE said he welcomed the report and the DCN is keen to ensure that the business rates system supports increased business growth – while ensuring funding stability for localities in the long term.

He added that the organisation, which represents all 201 district councils in England, endorses the CLG’s proposal to reframe the conversation of additional responsibilities “around principles rather than a more random list of specific responsibilities”.

“The DCN is keen to, as part of its work in the DCLG/LGA steering groups, support this more thematic approach to development of new responsibilities for local government, for example in relation to creating employment and driving housing growth,” said Cllr Clarke.

“The report also highlights the need to review the share of business rates in district/county areas and a future needs reassessment. We are committed to ensure that any new system should be designed around ‘place’ and delivering better outcomes for communities, rather than on a focus on institutions.”

Yesterday, London Councils warned that a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work for business rates devolution. The County Councils Network (CCN) added that county and district councils and national government must work together to ensure a fairer distribution of resources before any new system was introduced.

The DCN chair said he supports the collaboration between the government and the wider local government family to develop the new business rates model, but said it should not be used “just to conveniently glue together immediate funding gaps in adult social”.

The CCN warned recently that problems affecting the NHS, such as delayed transfers of care, are being made worse by cuts in social care funding.

In an effort to improve the situation, key health and social care bodies have set out their vision for how services can be integrated by 2020 in a new report, but warned plans are at risk because of funding shortages.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA’s community wellbeing spokesperson, said: “Health and social care faces major financial and demographic challenges meaning we have to change our model of support. We believe a shared local vision based on local populations’ health needs, and developed with local leaders is the most effective way of using public resources to improve health and wellbeing.

“The central purpose of integration is to meet the needs of communities, achieve the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes for residents, enable them to keep well, remain independent and allow them to contribute to the prosperity of their local areas.

Cllr Clarke added that instead there needs be a look at more long-term solutions, such as the important role of preventative services, to develop sustainable local government revenue streams that both support those residents that need our help the most and continue to drive national economic growth.

(Image: c. rushcliffeboroughcouncil)

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