A series of radical new reforms for business rates have been welcomed by Westminster City Council after a White Paper was published last month.
The reforms would allow councils to keep the money paid by local businesses and enable them to offer local discounts, a major step in the regeneration of central London.
Westminster City Council collects more business rates than any other part of the UK and even the City of London and Birmingham combined. It has been said that the business rates reforms would allow the council ensure investment in major projects and the continued growth of the economy.
These business rates reforms would largely affect the West End, which employs over 300,000 people and contributes £9 billion per annum to the UK GDP. As well as supporting retail, creative and leisure industries, the West End is also a valuable source of night time economy with over 3000 restaurants, clubs and bars. The West End is a major attraction for tourists visiting London, with 98% of those coming to Westminster.
Westminster Council’s cabinet member for business, Cllr Brian Connell said: “A lot has been said recently about localism and the importance of councils being given more power to make decisions locally. However these flies in the face of the way business rates are currently handled. It is ludicrous that all the money collected goes straight back to central government rather than being invested in the local community.
"Our businesses are paying significant sums into the business rate pot and deserve to see the returns which is why we support the white paper - along with its plans for discounted rates for some businesses. By freeing us from the burdens of red tape, regulation and bureaucracy and allowing us greater borrowing powers we could fund key infrastructure and other capital growth projects which will support locally driven economic development and growth."