In response to the DCLG consultation into 100 per cent retention of business rates, Cllr Neil Clarke MBE, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) said: “The DCN has appreciated this valuable opportunity to contribute to this consultation, which although admittedly of a general nature, has given participants the chance to consider the ultimate goals at stake for local government in attaining greater financial independence.
“At the outset of this process, the DCN stated there is a dynamic balance to be struck between needs, growth, incentives, stability and resources. This complex line of best fit must be designed with the long-term sustainability of local government finance firmly in view.”
“In framing its response, the DCN has been guided by four key principles. Firstly, we are seeking a focus on people, place and outcomes to deliver effective local solutions, with an emphasis on demand-management to protect service provision.
“Secondly, the new business rates system must remain fiscally neutral to every council at the point of transfer, in both the medium and the long-term.
“Finally, business rates retention should, on the one hand, powerfully incentivise growth and deliver appropriate rewards. On the other hand, any assessment of need must take present circumstances and population – as well as sparsity deprivation and rural adjustment – into account.
“On the issue of sharing business rates within district and county areas, the DCN will continue through the technical response the ongoing process of productive joint-working with the County Councils Network (CCN) and Rural Services Network (RSN), with a view to forging agreement within the local government family.”