From the blog

As the Chancellor announces biggest change to our business rates system in living memory, what can BIDs to to help local businesses?

BY PAUL CLEMENT

The Chancellor recently announced the biggest change to our business rates system in living memory.

Today, buy cialis businesses pay a tax based upon a notional value of the property that they occupy. The rate is set centrally, viagra 40mg the money they paid is transferred to Whitehall and, view in return, local councils receive a grant that, all too often, bears no resemblance to the money collected.

This Chancellor proposes that rates will be set locally and the money collected will be retained and spent locally.

I struggle to see how this can be anything other than good news. Of course, we all need to see the detail. However, if this gives local councils the power to set rates that will attract, rather than put off, businesses and the flexibility to be entrepreneurial enough to give businesses a more tangible return on their costs, I say “bring it on”.

This policy is brought about by the government’s devolution agenda. However, it takes more than just money for devolution to really work. That takes a fundamental rethinking of overall governance arrangements.

The current business rates system fails for two reasons. Firstly, local businesses don’t see all of their money spent on services that benefit them. But, secondly, and crucially, they don’t vote in council elections, can’t sit on council committees and so don’t have the same democratic right that you and I have when we pay our council tax. If we don’t agree with the incumbent, we can stand against them – no business can do that.

However, in Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds, businesses have voted to create BIDs and, in two of these locations, they have voted again to retain them at the end of their first terms. Working closely with our councils, here – and in over 200 locations like them across the country – there is the perfect partnership platform to use this opportunity to rethink how money is spent on our town centres and other commercial districts. I am not suggesting that voting rights on councils are given to BIDs but, rather, that even stronger partnerships are created so that businesses see the money they spend – both on rates and BID levies – used in an even more aligned way to ensure that the wider economy within their trading environment is improved and that new businesses, who will help top up the pot further, are encouraged in.

If pounds, power and partnership can be combined, this fiscal devolution could redefine the relationship between businesses and local authorities forever.

A similar article appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on Tuesday 20 October.