Lewes District Council welcomes proposed changes to business rates system

Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life
Stephen Hillier, Cabinet Member for Children ' Start of Life

Major changes to the way business rates are controlled and spent have been welcomed by Lewes District Council.

Chancellor George Osborne announced that from 2020 local authorities would keep the business rates proceeds raised in their areas rather than passing on half back to Government.

Councils could also gain the ability to cut the rates in order to promote economic growth and help struggling businesses.

A spokesperson for Lewes District Council said: “Lewes District Council is awaiting more detail from Government when they publish the draft local government finance settlement for 2016/17 that is expected towards the end of the year.

“In announcing business rates changes the Chancellor said that councils would be able to retain 100 per cent of business rates by 2020, but core grant to councils would be phased out – with councils also taking on new responsibilities and costs.

“We know that the Local Government Association and others have been campaigning for such a change for some time and Lewes District council welcomes the announcement made by the Chancellor and we are keen to see the detail in due course.”

Mr Osborne’s announcement, made at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester this week, has also been welcomed by both the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the Local Government Association (LGA).

John Allan, national chairman for the FSB, said: “The surprise announcement to allow councils to retain business rates presents a huge opportunity for local authorities and business to work together to boost local growth, develop a fairer tax system and create the jobs of the future.

“We also know there will be challenges to get the new system right. We want to ensure businesses don’t get short-changed. It is essential the new rates structure works for all our 5.2m small firms.”

A spokesperson for East Sussex County Council said: “Our bid for devolution with our partners across East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey to gain more powers from central government recognises the economic power which lies in the south east of England.

“There’s a growing recognition that local areas would benefit from a greater say in how their money is spent on delivering services, and re-examining how finances are distributed is an important part of this process.

“We would need to see more detail about the proposed changes in regard to business rates to see how this will affect East Sussex.”

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