A LEADING voice at County Hall has welcomed proposals unveiled by the Government to allow councils to keep 100 per cent of business rates raised in their area.
Under the plans announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his spending review in November, the millions of pounds raised through business rates will stay in Worcestershire by 2020; this year business rates boosted the county’s coffers by £59million.
Deputy leader of Worcestershire County Council, Coun Simon Geraghty welcomed the plans but raised concerns about a two-tier system of local government being created between councils that can and can’t raise business rates.
Currently 50 per cent of the cash raised from rates in the county are sent to Whitehall where the money is divvied up and then sent back as grants, which vary so areas with fewer businesses don’t lose out.
“All councils should be treated equally, business rates will only be allowed to be raised by councils with an elected mayor, that’s something we will be lobbying on,” Coun Geraghty said.
“We very much welcome the announcement by the Chancellor and the steps towards greater local retention of business rates in Worcestershire. “
“The retention of the proceeds of growth will help us to further drive Worcestershire’s economy.
The policy was first announced at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester back in October, but now councils are waiting for more details on how the plans will work.
“We now need further details on how the system is going to work and how transition will take place,” he added.
“For Worcestershire to realise the full benefits of any new system, we must be able to respond to local business and community needs.
“This includes the powers to reduce rates to attract more business, along with powers to raise funds for vital infrastructure projects in this county,” he added.