Local Government Finance Bill, Committee Stage, Tuesday 7 February 2017

Key messages

  • We support Amendment 46 to Clause 6, tabled by Gareth Thomas MP, which would require the Secretary of State to bring forward a provision to enable billing authorities and major precepting authorities in England to increase business rate multipliers on empty properties under certain circumstances. We support this amendment as it would provide additional flexibilities for councils and incentivise occupation of empty properties.
  • We support Amendment 47 to Schedule 1, tabled by Gareth Thomas MP, which seeks to remove the proposed power of the Secretary of State to force an authority to join a pool of local authorities. Authorities should be given the option of voluntarily pooling risk and rewards as long as it does not reduce income going to authorities outside of the pool area.
  • We support Amendments 48 and 49 to Schedule 2, tabled by Gareth Thomas MP, which would allow councils the flexibility to reduce the business rate multiplier and target this within specific areas. This could be above or below a particular rateable value threshold or for particular geographic areas or industries.
  • We support New Clause 11, tabled by Gareth Thomas MP, which seeks to enable billing authorities to have powers to treat mandatory reliefs as discretionary relief, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that liability was being reduced through business rates avoidance.
  • We support Amendment 50 to Clause 4, tabled by Gareth Thomas MP, which seeks to remove Chapter 4ZA of the 1992 Local Government Finance Act, inserted by Schedule 5 to the 2011 Localism Act, which provides for council tax referendums. The LGA does not support council tax referendums as democratically-elected local authorities should be able to set council tax at appropriate levels without the cost and bureaucracy of a referendum process.

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Local Government Finance Bill, Committee Stage, Tuesday 7 February 2017

6 February 2017