In 2019 the then Minister for Local Government introduced a pilot scheme allowing Lancashire authorities to keep 75 percent of business rate taxes for local spending within the county, up from 50%. This scheme meant the 14 local authorities within Lancashire received over £10m additional funding.
This scheme has meant that there is more money available for authorities to spend on local projects and has worked to increase economic development within Lancashire. Extra money has also been made available to key services such as the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, working to help improve the vital services that they deliver.
Nigel Evans Commented:
“The business rates pilot scheme is an excellent initiative that means money can be distributed locally where it is needed most, working to boost local economic growth and development, as well as contribute to the running of public services.”
Under the Business Rate Retention reforms, the 75 percent rate was intended to be maintained. However, as the Business Rate reforms are now being delayed until 2021 and the year long pilot will come to an end in 2020, there will be a gap whereby the percentage of business rate taxes that are collected locally will return to 50 percent. This will create a funding shortfall of over £10m for local authorities.
Some devolved administrations however, will be able to keep receiving up to 100% of business rates, whereas in Lancashire the business rates that will be received by local authorities are set to return to the old level.
Nigel Evans said of this:
“It is not right that Lancashire should lose out on the added benefits of this additional income, whilst other authorities can continue to benefit. Already, Ribble Valley Borough Council have written to the the Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick, and I have also written to the Secretary of State encouraging him to extend the pilot scheme until the Business Rate Retention reforms are implemented, so that Lancashire can continue to benefit from this progressive new policy”