Industry may appeal over Sellafield’s £30m rates bill
Last updated at 14:10, Thursday, 31 October 2013
COPELAND is unable to take advantage of pooling its business rates with the rest of the county because of a potential appeal from the nuclear industry, a meeting has heard.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Ltd are currently weighing up whether to appeal for a reduction in the business rates paid to Copeland, which totals £30million in 2013/14.
Until the outcome of any appeal is known – likely to be towards the end of 2014 if it goes ahead – Copeland will not take part in a strand of the newly-introduced Business Rates Retention Scheme (BRRS), which allows local authorities to pool their income to potentially attract financial incentives.
It is understood that Cumbria County Council – and five out of the six districts – will enter the pool. However, it has been agreed by all parties that Copeland’s current situation – pending the Sellafield decision which could make a multi-million-pound difference to its budget – would pose too much of a financial risk to the rest of the pool if it were to join.
If the decision-making body, the Valuations Office Agency, rules that Sellafield Ltd should pay less in business rates (which would be backdated to 2010) it could have a detrimental effect on the rest of the pooled county.
Copeland is unique in the country in that such a high proportion of the business rates it receives (67 per cent) comes from only one source, in Sellafield.
Sellafield Ltd is entitled to appeal – as all businesses are – to the Valuations Office Agency against the rates it has imposed.
Coun Gillian Troughton, Copeland’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “We are in a unique position in that rates from one business we have is larger than all the others put together, so any adjustment made to that has an enormous effect.
“The scheme – as designed – doesn’t work for us, as we are a special case.”
The new BRRS system has switched the emphasis onto local authorities managing their own business rates. Previously, rates were collected by the council, sent directly to the government, and then a percentage returned to the council. The new system allows councils to keep more of the rates they receive, giving them the incentive to encourage growth and create jobs, but they must also bear the risk if rates fall.
The benefits of pooling with other authorities include keeping more of the business rates generated in the area within the area; collaboration over service delivery; joint strategising; and benefits from economic growth spreading over a wider area.
Members of Copeland’s Executive have formally agreed that Copeland will not enter the Cumbrian pool. Discussions are continuing, however, between the council and the government towards a resolution. The council says that the government “recognises the unique situation” it is in.
Coun Troughton added: “The incentives of joining the pool are attractive, and forming a pool makes sense from Cumbria’s point of view. But we would need special dispensation – given our unique position – that would make pooling attractive to us and the rest of the pool.
“We are asking the government for this dispensation.”
First published at 11:08, Thursday, 31 October 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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Pooling - thought Copeland wanted to go on its own!
Nice double standards
Over to you Elaine W?
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