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Call for business rates proposals

THE government wants more councils to join forces and submit proposals to retain the growth in their business rates income.

A pilot programme will see a number of councils retain 100% of the growth in income raised locally through business rates from April 2018.

The government is also keen to spread the pilots across the country – with a focus on rural areas – to ensure that more can be learnt about the scheme in different places.

Local government minister Sajid Javid said he was responding to council calls to reduce the dependence of local authorities on central government.

    See also: Rates retention 'ambitious and complex'

Findings from the tranche of pilots will then help develop options for local authorities to retain more of the money they raise in the future.

This move builds on previous pilots originally launched in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, West of England, Cornwall and Greater London in April 2017.

These pilots will also continue into next year.

The Rural Services Network and local authorities have previously warned that government plans to move to 100% retention of business rates by 2020 are "ambitious, complex and challenging."

The joint statement was issued by the Rural Services Network, the County Councils Network (CCN) and the District Councils' Network (DCN).

Nit the networks said they supported the ambition on the basis that it would enable further local autonomy and self-reliance, as well as encouraging and rewarding future growth.

Mr Javid said he was committed to helping local authorities control more of the money they raised locally through business rates.

“By encouraging councils to work together, with the aim of sharing their business rates income, it enables them to take a much more strategic view on decisions that benefit the wider area.

“Expanding the pilot programme is an opportunity to consider how rates retention could operate across the country.

“We will continue to work closely with local government to agree the best way forward.”

Proposals from local authorities should promote collaborative working between councils to ‘pool’ their business rates

The government said it look favourably at proposals from groups of district councils willing to work with their county council.

It said it would continue to work with others on reform options that gave local authorities more control over the money they raised.

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