Talks over pooling West Sussex business rates

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A REINVENTION of business rates which was set to boost traders looks to be in need of a reboot in West Sussex.

In 2013, a new way of collecting businesses rates was introduced by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government.

The change was meant to see councils retaining more cash generated within their areas from the rates, therefore providing an incentive to support local businesses.

However, Chichester and Arun district councils could be set to join other boroughs and districts in the county in pooling their business rates to greater maximise revenue.

A report to be considered by Chichester’s cabinet on Tuesday (October 14) says growth income from business rates is initially shared 50 per cent to central government, 40 per cent to the billing authority and 10 per cent to the county council.

The report says: “However, the new system is extremely complex with tariffs, top-ups, ‘safety nets’, and levies.”

It goes on to say Chichester is not entitled to keep its entire share and a tariff is applied so that of the £42m collected, it only retains £2m.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has released a business rates retention pooling prospectus for 2015-16. Any proposals for new pools must be made to the DCLG by October 31.

If the pooling gets the go-ahead across the county, the councils would all be treated as a single entity for the purpose of calculating levies and more. Councils say this could help the area as the pool would be better off than the councils individually,

The pool’s levy rate would be lower than the individual councils and it would allow authorities to benefit from economic growth across a wider area.