Local Government Finance

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:06 pm on 22nd February 2017.

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Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) 6:06 pm, 22nd February 2017

I thank hon. Members for their contributions to this debate, which it is my pleasure to close. The settlement comes at an important time of reform for local government finance. It provides a sustainable path to the reforms that will be introduced by the end of this Parliament, through which 100% of business rates will be devolved to local government, giving councils control of an additional £12.5 billion to spend on local services.

The reforms are being made through the Local Government Finance Bill, which was introduced to the House last month. The Bill will enshrine in law our commitment to provide funding certainty by establishing a legal framework for multi-year settlements, which is a key feature of this settlement and something that has been called for by local government for decades. By putting the framework in place now, we can continue to work with local government over the coming months on the detail of the reforms, much of which will be set out in secondary legislation. Many local authorities welcome that approach.

Thanks to this Government’s action, 600,000 businesses are being lifted out of business rates altogether. A revaluation is overdue, and most businesses—three quarters of them, in fact—will end up paying either the same or reduced rates. Although three quarters of businesses will benefit or see no change, I am all too aware of the impact on the quarter that will see their bills rise. We are looking closely at what can be done to help the hardest hit.