Could Garstang benefit from lower business rates boost?

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

Coun Peter Gibson, leader of Wyre Borough Council

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Wyre could be set to flourish with lower business rates and council tax – according to council leader Peter Gibson.

It comes after Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans to allow councils to keep the proceeds from business rates raised in their area.

If the money is spent progressively and services improve then this would be a great thing for local businesses although I think people are sceptical about where it will be spent

Richard Whyman, trader

Coun Gibson said: “Currently we raise £26m in business rates, hand it to the government, then receive £6m back in grants. On the surface this could be very good news for Wyre which would see the council being able to cut council tax and business rates, but the devil is in the detail.”

Mr Osborne said councils would hold on to £26bn, calling it the “biggest transfer of power” in recent history. He also said the change, due to be in place by 2020, would mean cities and communities had to go to the government “with a begging bowl”.

Councils currently keep up to 50 per cent of the rates – the rest goes to Westminster.

And Coun Gibson says he thinks it’s a great idea.

“We as a council have always encouraged local business growth, so this looks like it could be a really good thing,” he said.

“This would incentivise businesses, especially local ones. The only thing I’m wondering about is what exactly are the details? There has to be some benefits for us if it is to work, so we’ll see how they share the money out.

“If we were to get back everything we collect then I’m sure that’s something everyone would welcome.”

Shops, offices, factories and businesses currently pay a uniform business rate set by central government.

Councils collect the tax and send the funds to the treasury, which then redistributes them so that areas with fewer businesses do not lose out.

Richard Whyman, of Market Place News in Garstang, said: “Every business would welcome cuts in their overheads. It’s when services start to suffer that it becomes a problem. If the money is spent progressively and services improve then this would be a great thing for local businesses although I think people are sceptical about where it will be spent. This also means Wyre would need to see a huge improvement in the its commitment to rural issues.”