October 7, 2015
Burnham-On-Sea gives cautious welcome to business rates devolution

Burnham-On-Sea has this week given a mixed welcome to the news that the government is to allow local councils across England to keep the proceeds from business rates raised in their area.

Under plans unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne, local councils will be able to cut the rate and some will be able to raise it. They currently keep up to 50% of the rates with the rest going to Westminster.

Burnham's MP James Heappey, pictured, told "The Chancellor's announcement is hugely welcome. For too long, local councils have fought to grow the local economy only for Whitehall to scoop the taxes."

"Now, money raised in Somerset will be spent in Somerset which means a fairer deal for local public services."

"I'm also delighted that local authorities will have the license to cut business rates in certain places or for certain sectors to stimulate local growth. This is real power to those charged with local economic development."

A spokesperson for Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade gave a cautious welcome to the news, saying: "It's very welcome that councils are being encouraged to be more pro-business and that more rates funding will stay local, however the changes must not be a way for councils to increase rates without the consent of our local business community."

And Burnham's Town Centre Manager, Bev Milner-Simonds, added: "The announcement this week is a surprise as the review of the business rate structure and formula is well over due and I would have expected that to happen first. There are an awful lot of unknowns to be cleared up and I hope that the rate setting body, whomever that is, do not see the changes as an opportunity to further increase rates for our local businesses."


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