Expect to hear more in the coming days about changes to business rates and how this could be a spur to economic growth. The policy has the rare advantage of fitting into two of the coalition’s most favoured agendas – “growth” and “localism”.
A review was launched last October examining whether the £24bn of business rates collected each year could be kept locally. At present the money is collected by local authorities and sent to central government which then applies a complex redistribution formula and sends it back to the regions.
Ministers’ cunning wheeze is that if councils could keep the levy directly they would have a new incentive to oversee more economic growth in their neighbourhoods – because they would keep the extra cash. True.
But the complete localisation of business rates would prompt agonised complaints from scores of local authorities. Why? Because there are some such as Westminster which have
The 50p rate – dubbed the “banker tax” – was always going to be a blunderbuss of a weapon with which to punish the guilty men of the UK’s financial services community. But who is it really going to affect?
Ed Balls said yesterday that a Labour government would use the £800m from the recent rise in the bank levy to pay for a reversal in the rise in VAT on petrol – which would cost, by co-incidence, £800m.
It’s a neat political attack line because it will lessen any public gratitude if the coalition freezes fuel duty in the Budget. (Ministers are widely expected to cancel or limit the proposed rise of inflation plus 1 per cent). Balls will be able to turn around on March 23 and ask why ministers don’t go further and carry out his VAT plan.