New rates plan benefits business

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Sheffield Chamber of Commerce has welcomed new Government incentives for councils to promote local business growth.

The Government has unveiled details of its plan to allow councils in England to keep a share of the business rates they raise, rather than them being sent to Whitehall and then redistributed.

Chamber executive director Richard Wright said: “Businesses have long said that they want local councils to treat them as constituents, not just tick-box consultees.

“The reforms will mean that councils need to think business first if they want to raise more money to support local services.

“Put simply, councils need to grow their business base to increase their income and that means approving viable planning applications, assisting companies wanting to expand and attracting new investors from home and overseas.

“Crucially, no company will pay more to its local council as a result of these reforms, which is absolutely essential at a time when business is doing all it can to keep high streets, city centres and industrial estates vibrant.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said proposals in the Local Government Finance Bill would give councils more incentive to promote economic activity.

Mr Pickles said: “If these reforms lead to every council working as hard as it possibly can to help businesses thrive, then they have the potential to benefit individually and increase growth overall.”

Richard Wright added: “I agree with Mr Pickles’ view that this will be good for local businesses because they can look forward to an even stronger partnership with councils, as we have already started to see here in Sheffield.”