Projects could be funded in Tunbridge Wells by local business rate retention

Projects could be funded in Tunbridge Wells by local business rate retention

ONE OFF projects could be paid for in Tunbridge Wells by a fund that retains 100 per cent of income from local business rates.

The Cabinet of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) backed a proposed retention scheme in passing their 2018/19 Budget on Thursday [November 7].

Anxious TWBC is bidding alongside all authorities in Kent for the county to be one of around five chosen by central Government to benefit from retaining £25million in business rates currently returned to HM Treasury.

Financial documents show TWBC face a funding gap of £149,000 in their draft budget, meaning there is a significant shortfall in capital needed to fund future operations.

The council has denied that securing the localisation of business rates could be seen to ease financial pressures as it is a “one of receipt”.

Lee Colyer, the council’s Director of Finance, said he was “anxiously waiting” the Government’s decision. In the meeting, he said: “This council has played a leading role nationally in asking for more funds from local businesses to be retained locally.

“The Government has listened to that call and launched a pilot asking for some areas to come forward and present how this could work in practice.

“All local authorities within Kent reached an agreement to submit a bid. If it is successful that will result in £25million in growth proceeds being retained.

“The benefit to this council is to retain an extra £600,000 of business rate growth and the creation of a West Kent Infrastructure Fund of £1.05million.

“It is a very strong bid but it is a very competitive process. The government can only support around five and we are anxiously waiting the decision of the secretary of state.”

A decision about which county the Government chooses is expected in the coming days. TWBC was unable to state how any extra capital might be allocated.

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