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Farron welcomes government plan as ‘born in Cumbria’

June 29, 2011 4:09 PM

Tim Farron has welcomed the news today that the bid for a stand-alone Cumbrian local enterprise partnership (LEP) has been selected as the government's preferred option.The government has announced that councils in England, such as South Lakeland District Council, will be allowed to keep the business rates they collect rather than paying them into Treasury coffers. This is a plan that was born in South Lakeland which now becomes government policy.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the plan in a speech this morning to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The idea to localise business rates came from local businesses in Windermere and Bowness who said to Tim that the business rates were too high and were hurting the local economy. South Lakeland District Council also asked Tim if he could press ministers to try and get the government to agree to keep the proceeds of the business rates within the local economy.

Tim then took up the idea and spoke to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises, including shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. They are calculated and collected by local authorities, and at present are put into a central pool before being redistributed to all councils in the form of a grant. Currently this means that South Lakeland puts millions more into the pool than it gets out.

The grant is used to help fund local services like the police and fire brigade.

Tim said: "I was listening to the speech this morning and when I heard the proposal I was delighted. An idea that came from Bowness has now become government policy! We can now use the powers to lower business rates to help out local businesses and attract even more here. I am looking forward to sitting down with the council and businesses and working out how we can make our area even more attractive to businesses."