In response to the CLG Committee’s report into 100 per cent retention of business rates, Cllr Neil Clarke MBE, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) said: “The DCN welcomes this timely report to which we contributed evidence and is keen to ensure that the business rates system supports increased business growth – while ensuring funding stability for localities in the long-term so districts can continue to drive regional growth and deliver those services that residents value the most.
“The DCN endorses the Committee’s proposal with regard to framing the conversation of additional responsibilities around principles rather than a more random list of specific responsibilities. The DCN is keen to, as part of its work in the DCLG/LGA steering groups, support this more thematic approach to development of new responsibilities for local government, for example in relation to creating employment and driving housing growth.
“The report also highlights the need to review the share of business rates in district/county areas and a future needs reassessment. We are committed to ensure that any new system should be designed around ‘place’ and delivering better outcomes for communities, rather than on a focus on institutions.
“The DCN supports the collaboration between the government and the wider local government family to develop the new business rates model, and is represented on the DCLG/LGA business rates steering groups. As well as this the DCN has formed a working group with the County Councils Network, the Rural Services Network and CIPFA to develop a collaborative local government solution to the issues raised.
“Nonetheless the DCN is clear that the business rates should not be used just to conveniently glue together immediate funding gaps in adult social care. Instead we need to look at more long-term solutions, such as the important role of preventative services, to develop sustainable local government revenue streams that both support those residents that need our help the most and continue to drive national economic growth.
“There is a dynamic balance to be struck between needs, growth, incentives, stability and resources, and this complex line of best fit must be designed with the long-term sustainability of local government finance firmly in view.”