Councils given £6m to boost business rates

Michael Hunt

Local authorities have been given a further £6m towards developing the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme.

Communities Secretary John Denham announced today that a total of £50m is being invested across England, including allocations to local authorities in the following areas within the North West:

  • Cheshire – just over £1.1m
  • Cumbria – a total of £403,866
  • Greater Manchester – just over £2.7m
  • Lancashire – a total of £541,302
  • Merseyside – just over £1.1m

Funding is allocated from the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme that rewards councils which successfully promote local growth, by allowing them to retain a share of increases in revenue derived from business rates.

The Government said "there are no changes in the underlying methodology by which rewards are calculated". Grants are calculated for 55 sub-regions, and then distributed to local authorities according to population size. It added "in two tier areas rewards are split equally between district and county councils".

Denham said public sector support at this time can lessen the impact for struggling families and businesses. He wants to see councils use this grant to help small and new businesses in hard hit areas who often need extra support to get through the tougher times so they can hit the ground running as economic growth picks up.

Last July, the scheme was re-launched with a similar £50m grant. The announcement made today builds on this and takes the total Local Authority Business Growth Incentives funding since 2005 to over £1bn, on top of normal Government grants.

Denham said: "Building economic recovery is the Government's top priority and we firmly believe in the decisive leadership role councils have to play. Strong, vibrant, decisive local government is an essential part of our plans to promote growth and cut unemployment while rebuilding the public finances.

"We put the public sector in the lead while the private sector was struggling, spending and investing to lessen the impact on individuals, businesses and communities. We are giving councils up and down the country a further £50m to support small and new businesses in hard hit areas that might need a little jump start to get up and running again.

"Local councils, and councillors, with their unique democratic mandate, are best placed to provide financial support and local services that are responsive to the pressures being felt by families and businesses in local areas.

"Through our Real Help Now plan, we have committed a billion pounds to create more than 150,000 jobs and guaranteed everyone under the age of 25 a job, training or work experience if they are out of work for over six months and given struggling small businesses financial support through our billion pound Enterprise Finance Guarantee and tax payment deferrals."

The Government's Real Help Now initiative supports both families and businesses and also gives support by providing free business health checks, discounted rate bills for small businesses, tax payment deferrals, capital loans or help with bank loans for business growth, and a ten day Government payment promise.

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