FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ahead of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee on the 22 March taking evidence on Business Rates, the Forum of Private Business is sounding a note of caution on the Budget proposal to pass control of Business Rates to Local Authorities.

Ian Cass, the CEO of the Forum said, “In regard to the Government plans for decentralisation of business rates to local authorities, the Forum’s members have some concerns that we hope will be taken into account. The increasing pressure on Local Authority budgets has put additional demands on their available resources and we are concerned that transferring 100% business rate responsibility and retention to Local Authorities will increase the reliance on business rate income to fund other services and will restrict their ability to provide rate relief or to potentially further reduce rates. We know that the new majors will be able to add a premium to pay for new infrastructure in their areas, so the potential for a variety of approaches applied by different Local Authorities and Mayors could build further inequality into the system and may disproportionally affect those areas with less ability to generate business rate income.”

The Forum is encouraging Ministers to focus on three key areas that need to be considered and addressed:

• The real need to ensure that all arrangements are clear and transparent.
• The need to ensure that there are suitable caps and controls put in place to protect small business.
• The need to ensure that Small Business is included in and has a voice and input into the process and decisions being made.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Feedback from Forum members:
• 55% of Forum members support limited incentives to improve business support and infrastructure in their area with 5% disagreeing.
• 50% of Forum members wanted greater transparency in the way that business rates are calculated, 0% of businesses felt that this would be detrimental.
• 14% of Forum members rated Council services as "Good" or "Very Good", 39% felt that the could be more small business friendly

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About Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business is a not-for-profit comprehensive business support organisation founded in 1977. Our membership is spread throughout the UK and primarily made up of companies that employ between 1-50 employees, helping them to manage employees, saving time, giving advice, support and protection where a business needs it.

We are a recognised leading authority on business issues and represent the interests of business owners on many consultative bodies. We have built a solid reputation, being influential in many areas of policy-making, in changing laws that affect small businesses, and we continue to campaign for the fair treatment of businesses within the UK.

Everything we do is about making sure our members’ businesses operate profitably. This means that every penny we make goes back in to supporting our members, providing the support and resources that will enable businesses to flourish and grow.