NALC supports moves by the Government to ease the financial burden on communities by the introduction of discretionary business rates relief on public toilets owned by local authorities.
We are extremely encouraged that the Government has listened to our arguments that the ‘toilet tax’ levied on local councils for running public conveniences they own or manage is costing local tax payers thousands of pounds, leading to many public conveniences being closed all over the country despite their fundamental importance and value within communities.
The Government’s new Local Government Finance Bill enables principal (county, district, unitary, or borough) authorities to grant full business rates relief on all owned or part-owned local authority public toilets. NALC calls on principal authorities to introduce this rate relief as soon as possible to ease the financial burden on local taxpayers and save councils paying £16m in ‘toilet taxes’ (business rates) a year.
However we do not understand why this all-important matter could not be treated the same as telecommunications infrastructure and be given compulsory business rates relief.
Public toilets have both a public health and economic development benefit, helping keep communities clean and desirable with closures posing challenges for communities where local jobs rely on visitors for the day-to-day success of their businesses, particularly in market towns and coastal communities. In addition, these conveniences keep communities accessible for many people, such as families with small children and the elderly community, who rely on these important facilities being readily available.
Linked to issues around business rates, NALC continues to call for a share of these rates to go to local councils. Job fairs, promoting tourism, town centre management, helping people into work, enabling retail development, working with Chambers of Trade, apprenticeship schemes, running town teams and partnerships, promoting overseas trade and investment - just a few examples of what local councils are now focusing on in this brave new world.
Finally we press for the Government’s positive decision not to extend referendum principles on precept (part of the council tax) rises by local councils and for these to be turned into multi-year deals.
Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC said: “NALC will continue to work with the Government and the LGA (Local Government Association) to make sure the ‘toilet tax’ on local councils is finished for good. The announcement in the Local Government Financial is very welcome news and I’m delighted that the Treasury has heeded the parish call and opened the door to finally removing this unhelpful financial burden on local councils. This in turn will help our councils to spend people’s hard earned monies on improving the lives of communities”.