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Levelling up brings business rates opportunity

Sponsored feature | By Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID

Michael Gove. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA
Michael Gove. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

Michael Gove followed up his 332-page Levelling Up White paper last week with a further comment that supports the devolution of business rates to our regional mayors.

There are 10 regional mayors and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority was formed in 2017 with the election of our first regional mayor.

Business rates are an unpopular tax - they are regressive. In Cambridge they are second only to London rates and they only benefit the local area to a small extent.

Cambridge City Council collects over £100m in business rates each year, but they only keep five per cent of this. Thus, when I speak to businesses and they tell me should be done locally with their business rates I wholeheartedly agree and more could be done if the tax remained local.

Devolving and hypothecating the tax would ensure it would remain in the local area, that local authorities and business groups could develop plans which would benefit our local towns and cities and make them more attractive to visitors and more sustainable for the future.

I would broadly support our regional mayor Dr Nik Johnson having this control, but we would like to see very local action being taken, thus business rates collected in Cambridge should primarily benefit Cambridge and not be aggregated across the region.

Far too often Cambridge is seen as a net contributor to the region and the Exchequer and here is an opportunity to have some return.

Cambridge has been left out of the levelling up funding to date while many of our regional neighbours such as Peterborough, Ipswich, Norwich, St Neots and others have received funding support from the various schemes announced in recent years.

Read more from Ian Sandison and Cambridge BID

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