LANCASHIRE has been selected to take part in a Business Rates Pilot Scheme that looks set to bring a £9million boost to the county.
The scheme will see 11 borough councils, two unitary authorities, the county council and fire authority keep 75% growth in business rates and work together to deliver economic growth.
It will help to provide financial stability to the 15 participants and more funding to invest in services at a time when local authority budgets are under intense pressure.
It will also increase resources to target strategic economic growth across the county.
The councils involved have a combined collectible rate income of more than £360million.
Geoff Driver CBE, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are pleased to be selected for this national pilot scheme. We have worked with our partners to successfully bring this to Lancashire, which will result in an additional £9m boost for the county. This is welcome news, as the extra funding will help to support our work to deliver high-quality services at a time of increasing pressures and demands on services. This scheme should also bring additional support for economic growth, which is one of our key priorities.”
Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources at Preston City Council, said: “We are pleased to be taking part in this scheme, which will bring much- needed income to the authorities taking part. Our budgets have been squeezed for a number of years and ultimately that affects jobs and the services we provide to residents. Preston is already seeing the rewards from recent growth and we continue to seek further investment in the city for the benefit of everyone.”
Joyce Plummer, cabinet member for resources at Hyndburn Council, said; “We welcome the news of this successful bid for additional funds to be retained in the county. It helps to reinforce our goal to support business growth in Hyndburn and will benefit our residents.”
Alan Vincent, deputy leader and portfolio holder for resources at Wyre Council said: “This is a great example of the benefits that can be achieved by councils and the Government working together. We are hopeful that based on the financial modelling done by the authorities involved this will bring real cash into Wyre to help maintain the excellent services we provide.”
Ken Hind, leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, which is the lead authority for the scheme, added: “We have much to gain from this scheme and are delighted to be taking part in it. We have set a course for growth and this means our efforts to encourage more businesses, jobs and prosperity will pay dividends, as we will all be able to share in the pooled rewards.
“I would like to thank Lancashire finance officers for putting the successful bid together, which should bring an extra £9million to the county and is an excellent example of partnership working for the benefit of our communities.”
The pilot scheme starts on April 1 2019 and will test whether full retention of business rates can be rolled out nationally.
The Government’s aim is for all local authorities to retain 75% of business rates by 2020-21.
Business rates are charged on most non-domestic properties, such as shops, offices, pubs, factories, holiday rental homes and guest houses, with levels set by the Valuation Agency.
The following councils are taking part in the scheme: Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre, along with Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Combined Fire Authority.