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Business rates revamp under Localism Bill

Local authorities will have greater control over setting business rates under new powers proposed in the Localism Bill.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said that under the new plans local authorities will be able to grant discretionary business rate discounts as well as making small business tax breaks easier to take advantage of. 

He also outlined plans to give businesses a greater say in rate supplements, meaning local councils outside London must poll businesses to secure majority support before supplements are introduced.  The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the change.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Compulsory business ballots are a major victory for vulnerable retailers big and small. It would be fundamentally undemocratic to put extra taxes on local businesses without establishing their views first and assessing the potential impact on jobs.”

The changes are designed to “give local government a stronger financial stake in the local economy, helping rebalance the economy, so it is more entrepreneurial and attracts local business”, according to Government.

The Localism Bill also outlines changes to the planning system, which will give communities “the power to grant planning permission if a local majority are in favour”, restoring “democratic and local control over planning”, and replacing the Infrastructure Planning Commission.

The Government is calling it a “landmark bill that heralds a ground-breaking shift in power to councils and communities”.

Robertson added: “Giving local decision makers the power to make choices that best suit local circumstances is a sound objective. Successful retailing is all about providing what local customers want.

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