In response to the Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement today that local governments will be allowed to keep business rates, Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of the think tank Centre for Cities said:
“For years, we have been calling for cities to be have greater control over their finances, so we welcome today’s announcement, which has the potential to be a hugely significant step in the devolution process, with big implications for how local government is funded in the future. By ensuring city-regions are not only able to retain the revenue generated by business rates, but also vary the rate itself, local leaders will be able to better respond to the needs of their local economies, and to ensure the revenues raised are used to invest in transport and skills across the city-region.
“While we need to see more details of how this would be implemented, giving city-regions the power to raise supplementary business rates in particular will make a big difference in enabling them to undertake ambitious and much-needed infrastructure projects that respond to business need, such as major transport schemes or housing developments. In London, for example, which is the only UK city which currently has this power, supplementary business rates have been agreed with business and used to fund important projects like Crossrail, which illustrates how significant this announcement could be for other cities.
“The Chancellor has indicated that only city-regions with mayors will be given this power, but we would also like to see it extended to fast-growing places like Cambridge and Milton Keynes – places which are booming economically, but which face major infrastructure challenges if they are to sustain that growth in future.”
For further information, or to set up an interview, please contact Brian Semple, Press Manager for Centre for Cities, on 07595 439 638.
Head of Communications