Cllr Joel Davidson is a councillor for Brondesbury Park Ward in Brent and was the Conservative London Assembly candidate for Brent and Harrow in May.
Earlier this year, I wrote on ConHome about the launch of my task group into the business rates devolution policy.
Last Tuesday the task group published its report, but the mass media somehow buried the good news it entailed.
The evidence we have produced, from the widest possible group of stakeholders, shows that:
- The policy represents a great opportunity for councils to be innovative and to drive their own business agenda, reflecting their local environment.
- In order to do this effectively, Councils should be lobbying for extra powers to be devolved to them from the Government, such as skills and apprenticeships within their area.
- Our report also highlighted that Councils should be working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs in order to develop common strategies that will grow the London economy.
The policy will also have implications for housing developments, which must be accountable to local residents and must therefore include opportunities for local commerce and local employment.
Finally, political accountability will be enhanced by this policy, as councils which fail to demonstrate a growth in business rates income will be punished by the electorate. Council Leaders will also need to be far more accountable than at present, and will no longer be able to fall back on the tired excuses of lack of funding from central government, since the Revenue Support Grant will be phased out completely by 2020.
The report is attached here, and further detailed examination of this far-reaching policy will clearly be required.
This business rates devolution policy remains in development, and I’m anxious to hear from all those in the business community and other local councillors who are practically involved.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com