Councils have been given a real boost to help secure the long-term economic prosperity of their communities with last night's Royal Assent of the Business Rate Supplements Act.
The Act provides county councils, unitary district councils and, in London, the Greater London Authority with a new discretionary power to raise a supplement on the business rate and retain those funds to support additional projects aimed at economic development.
The new power will be used by the Greater London Authority to raise funds to meet the Mayor's contribution to the Crossrail project - vital to securing the Capital's economic future.
The business community will also have a key role in decisions to levy a BRS -with councils having a duty to consult local businesses liable in all cases where the new power is used.
With the exception of Crossrail, businesses will be given the opportunity to vote on a BRS project where the BRS will fund more than a third of the total costs of a project.
Properties with a rateable value of £50,000 or less will be exempt from any Business Rate Supplement in England - meaning most smaller businesses will not be expected to pay.
Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton said:
"I am delighted that, through this new Act, councils and businesses working closer together will be able to give the green light to economic development projects, boosting job opportunities and improving local economic development in their area. This is another example of government moving real power back to local communities and helping local communities to plan for the upturn in this country.
"Business Rate Supplements will not be applied in every community - but this new discretionary power does mean councils will be better placed than ever to make the most of the upturn and ensure their local economies thrive."