Rates shake-up may be a borough boost

Wigan Town Hall

Wigan Town Hall

An overhaul of the business rates system could prove to be good news for both Wigan firms and the town hall, according to estimates.

The government released on Friday details of its plans to “ensure fairer bills for businesses”, the first revamp since 2008.

Estimates suggest North West towns could see an 11 per cent drop on average whereas London will see an 11 per cent rise.

The move is part of wider reforms which will see local authorities rely more heavily on locally collected rates instead of government grants.

Speaking to the Evening Post, deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt suggested the reforms would not leave the town hall worse off than before.

And with a fall in rates in Wigan a possibility, the potential for economic growth would be a great benefit to the council.

Mr McKevitt said: “The Government has previously indicated that tariffs and top-up would be adjusted following a revaluation, to ensure, as far as is practicable, that authorities’ retained income is the same after revaluation as immediately before.

“The Department for Local Government technical consultation on the 2017/18 local government finance settlement sets out a methodology to achieve this.

“The proposed methodology would identify and isolate the amount by which business rates income in the authority will change purely due to the revaluation and uses these figures to adjust top-ups in order to cancel out the impact of revaluation.”

Wigan Council will be part of a trial scheme which will see town halls keep more of their business rates revenue.

However, when the reforms were announced earlier this year, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said it was part of “smoke and mirrors” from the government and would mean a reduction in local government funding.

In recent years several Wigan firms have ceased trading citing high levels of business rates.

Local government minister Marcus Jones says the changes will ensure bills accurately reflect changes in the property market.

He said: “This government is cutting business rates.

“Yet local firms also need to be confident that the rates they pay are accurate and fair, no matter where they are in country, and these updates will give them that reassurance.

“We are committed to helping all businesses flourish and as we make the system fairer up and down the country, nearly three quarters of companies will see no change, or even a fall, in their bills – including 600,000 who from next April will have their bills cut altogether.

“But for the small minority of businesses that do face an increase, we’re putting in place £3.4bn of transitional relief to provide vital support as they adjust to these fair and impartial changes.”