24 October 2011
The Green Party has dismissed the Coalition government’s
plan to "localise business rates" as a superficial gimmick – with potentially damaging
effects for local government, small business and the environment.
The new plans are an example of false localisation, designed
instead as a mechanism to further squeeze council budgets and services. While
the proposals are portrayed as localism, both business rates and the valuations
on which rates are based will be set by central government.
The proposals go further to state that any business rate
growth achieved by local authorities below a centrally set growth target – adjusting
for inflation – will be kept centrally. Local authorities are actually set to
lose out to the treasury – if the treasury’s own targets are not met – placing further
strain on the provision of already slashed services.
Jason Kitcat, Green Party Councillor and cabinet member on Brighton
and Hove City Council, said: "It’s absurd to even call the proposals ‘localisation’
when the key variable – the level of tax – will remain out of council control
and the growth target will be set nationally for all of England.
"Small innovative businesses, such as new media and
sustainability, attract little or no business rates because they are run from
home or modest offices. To benefit most under the new scheme, local authorities
need to favour large projects like new airports or large shopping centres. This
makes a mockery of the Coalition’s pledge to support small business and will
further choke an already stalling recovery.
"Business rates need to be set locally so regional authorities
can adjust strategies to optimise local talent. Without this, both the local
economy and the environment will suffer from corporate cherry picking. These proposals
show the superficiality of Cameron’s rhetoric, both in his claims to being the
UK’s greenest government and his support for localism"