Councillor Jim Rae pins his hopes for the financial future of the District ( WSCT 06/02/14) on an increase in business rates but that is an uncertain factor in the decision on Horsham’s destiny.
The government’s scheme to allow councils to retain some part of an increase in business rates collected year on year is by no means straightforward.
Essentially, the increase would be divided between the government which takes 50 per cent, the county council which receives 40 per cent and the district council which picks up the remaining ten per cent.
The district council could also lose some its share of the increased business rates if that amount has to be set against what would have been paid under the government’s support grant.
The scheme, which is scheduled to continue until it is reviewed in 2020, has recently received a critical report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, an independent research body.
It concluded that the business rate retention scheme has been ill-designed and has been hampered by the government’s desire to equalise the gains of individual councils across all councils.
Basing policies for the future development of Horsham on the minimal advantages of the business rate retention scheme would carry with it a very high price. Allowing for two or more business parks of 1m sq ft, without recognising the potential of the existing areas of empty offices and industrial buildings/sites in Horsham town, would be a case in point.