Election pledge would put Business Rates into one big melting pot
The Green Party is taking its pre-election tax and business pledges seriously even if no one else is with its latest announcement being that Council tax and business rate income would be pooled centrally and allocated among councils by an independent commission.
The plan is listed in its general election manifesto and states that grant funding should be "sufficient to pay for all statutory services", with an additional £10bn a year given to councils.
But while council tax and business rate levels would be set locally without restrictions, it says: "to fund discretionary activities we would…distribute the whole of council tax and business rate receipts between local authorities on a basis decided by a commission independent of central government set up by local authorities themselves".
Councils would also be permitted to levy new local taxes such as on tourism, workplace parking and empty homes, and a formal constitutional role would be accorded to local government so as to remove Whitehall intervention away from the finances.
Under the Greens, councillors would regain control over education and be permitted to run services including public transport. Not surprisingly, the Greens would require councils to produce local low carbon plans as well as repeal the National Planning Policy Framework.
An interesting collection of pledges but first of all I'm not sure who actually believes that any of this is relevant. Even with a hung Parliament, the chances of the Green's holding any balance of power are as likely as Nigel Farage sipping a Pina Colada on camera and welcoming the latest flight from Estonia at Heathrow.
Secondly, imagine the power of a single commission to determine fund allocation to ALL councils? The mind boggles in terms of who could or would want to chair such a body and the amount of man hours that would have to be employed to get even a theoretical commission to work within an independent framework. Council's wold have to set up their lobby departments, or employ management consultants to do their bidding.
I guess the one beauty of the Green Party is that they don't have too many cronies to appease or big donors hanging around them at the moment looking for such a high profile posting, but I guess no one will be handing in their notice any time soon to rush to apply.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is the latest big name to call on the government to extend the business rates holiday beyond April 2021.
The retail and hospitality sectors are mobilising the troops with dire warnings that thousands of business are at risk if the rates holiday isn’t extended beyond April 2021.
The pandemic has led to more than 50,000 extra appeals being lodged against business rates by Scottish firms alone.