January 27, 2017
Burnham-On-Sea's MP tells PM: 'Treat rural areas fairly on rates income'

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week called on the Prime Minister to ensure that rural areas of Somerset get their fair share of business rates income.

James Heappey said: "How we fund local public services is one of the big questions at Westminster."

"Rurality has a cost that hitherto has not fully been included in the funding for schools, policing, health and local government. We’ve made some progress in the first three but on the latter more work is needed."

"As the chairman of the Rural Fair Share Campaign, I've been meeting with ministers and this week I'll be taking that case to the Prime Minister. The headline is that soon local authorities will retain the business rates they raise locally."

"That's great news; it encourages councils to be more entrepreneurial because the more businesses they can entice to the area, the more business rates they raise and the more money they have to spend on public services. But we don't arrive at that self-sustaining panacea straight away."

"Often the councils with the greatest costs from rurality and an ageing population are often those with the smallest business rate bases."

"It will take time for economic growth in those areas to drive up the tax take so there needs to be a full funding formula review so that rural councils can maintain public services during the transition."

"Inevitably some significant redistribution from London and the Home Counties to the regions will be needed in the interim."

"The bill for adult social care will rise and rise again as life expectancy continues to increase. We owe all a long, happy and dignified retirement but we also expect councils to deliver bus services, libraries, refuse collection, road repair and more alongside those adult social care responsibilities."

"That requires an urgent adjustment to local government funding so our councils can plan over a longer period. I'll continue to push for that in Westminster."


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