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Councils should use business rates – Social Enterprise UK

A new business rates regime could boost local enterprise, according to a new report published by Social Enterprise UK, 3Space and Meanwhile Space.

The report is a practical resource for local councils, recommending the establishment of business rate policies to support long-term and sustainable social and economic value creation.

Councils should also share examples of innovative policies and central government, or a partnership of local authorities, should fund the development of a robust and independent evaluation of costs and benefits of meanwhile use.

Eddie Bridgeman of Meanwhile Space said: “We want to provide food for thought and some practical ideas for local authorities. This isn’t just for the rates team, but officers from regeneration and economic development to get thinking what resources they do have to stimulate economic and social value – at a simple level innovation could be well informed and focused conversations between those that collect rates and those that are tasked with high street change.

“The Localism Act enables local authorities to retain a significant proportion of the business rates generated in their area and new powers to grant discounts to reduce the business rates of any local ratepayer, as they see fit.”

Andrew Cribb of 3Space said: “There is a danger that some local authorities may be scratching their heads and will draft policies in isolation, develop flawed approaches or worse still, just do nothing. Yet they have this opportunity to see the new flexibility in the business rates regime as a constructive tool to enable their local area to flourish and deliver social and economic value, stitched into wider strategic regeneration plans.”

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “This report is the first real attempt to get to grips with the changes in the business rate regime. There is a tremendous opportunity here for forward-thinking local authorities to step up, engage more constructively with those working hard to improve their local communities and make a real difference.”

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