The Government has today turned down a proposal for a share of business rates to go to parish and town councils, suggesting they do not see local economic development as part of their localism role.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) said it was ‘bitterly disappointed’ but ‘not entirely surprised’ by news the Department for Communities and Local Government has not supported a proposal made under the Sustainable Communities Act to give England’s most local level of Government a percentage of business rates to help fund their work on measures to support local economic growth.
In his letter responding to the proposal from Sevenoaks Town Council, DCLG minister Stephen Williams MP said “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, Cllr 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.”
The proposal from Sevenoaks Town Council received support from over 400 local and national bodies, and was made under legislation championed by Government to help remove barriers and red tape.
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.