could get £4m funding boost from business rates changes
County and District councils have bid to be part of a pilot scheme
that could mean an extra £4m of funding for local services.
The Government has asked local authority areas if they want to be
part of a Business Rates retention trial during the next financial
year. Somersets authorities have jointly expressed their interest.
The national pilot will test proposed new arrangements for distributing
the money raised through Business Rates, helping Government decide
if it should roll them out across the country.
At the moment Business Rates are collected by district councils
and around 50 per cent is kept by the districts, county and fire
and rescue service. This is part of their core funding and is shared
between them using formula based on needs. The remainder goes to
central Government for it to decide how it should be spent.
Under the pilot arrangements, more of the money raised would stay
in Somerset and be available for the local councils to decide
how it is spent. It is estimated that Somerset County Council could
gain between £3.5m and £4m.
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet member for Resources and Economic
Development, said: "Retention of Business Rates is something
local authorities have been lobbying for for some time."
"Our core Government funding has been massively reduced in
recent years and retaining more Business Rate income is going to
be essential for local government sustainability in the long-term."
"This would only be a trial, but if selected for the pilot
Somerset would benefit from these new arrangements before most other
As part of their bid to be a pilot area, Somerset authorities had
to indicate where they would intend to use additional funding. They
have stated that it would fund investment that supports economic
growth and for work to transform the way services are delivered
to help them become more efficient and sustainable.
For the County Council, spend on transformation would be largely
focussed on changes in Adults and Childrens services. The
Government is expected to announce the pilot areas next month.