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Burton firms call for more input on council spend

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: September 02, 2014

By Rob Smyth

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BUSINESSES in Burton are calling on council chiefs to talk to them first about how to spend revenue generated from business rates.

A survey by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, which covers the town, revealed that 81 per cent of respondents in Burton were in favour of closer dialogue on business rates.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), said the results showed a clear call for change in the way that councils determine their spending priorities for revenue raised from business rates.

He said: "While taxes are rarely popular, where businesses see a tangible local benefit as a direct result of revenue raised they will be significantly more supportive.

"Local authorities already have a duty to consult representatives of non-domestic rate payers before setting a general budget, appetite for which has been mixed in the past.

"However, directly focusing on business rates and their expenditure on activities focused on the local economy and the needs of rate payers would be highly beneficial.

"Resources are limited so we need to ensure that all expenditure on stimulating the local economy is targeted at the right areas for maximum impact."

As a result of the Local Government Finance Act 2012, local authorities can now keep just under half of the amount raised in business rates for spending on local priorities.

Mr Blackett said: "We would urge local authorities to look at creating mechanisms whereby businesses can influence spending of business rates revenue."

Other results from the survey showed that businesses expressed an opinion that business rates were too high.

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