PracticeConsultingBusiness – Concern over leaked plans to revert to local UBRs

Business - Concern over leaked plans to revert to local UBRs

Business reacted with alarm to leaked Labour proposals to return the power to vary uniform business rates (UBR) to local authorities, writes Kathy Greene.

Plans to change the system installed by the last government eight years ago are understood to be in a consultation paper on local government finance, which is expected to be released later this month.

Ann Robinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said members were worried councils would increase business rates ‘by significant amounts’ above inflation. ‘Plans to raise rates could impose a heavy burden in some parts of the country,’ she said.

‘The case to support the return to local authority control doesn’t add up’, added Amanda McIntyre, senior policy adviser at the CBI.

‘An overwhelming majority of business supports the UBR, it gives them a significant advantage and it makes it easier for them to plan ahead,’ she stated.

McIntyre warned that council control over business rates would not strengthen local accountability and authorities ‘would not get the large-scale freedom they expect’, but that only marginal benefits would be expected.

But a Local Government Association spokesman called the proposal ‘a significant part of Labour’s modernisation plans’ and said ‘authorities have been calling for the change for some time.’

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