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Business rates devolution will give councils greater stake in local economic success - IoD

06 Oct 2015

The Institute of Directors has backed the Chancellor’s announcement that powers to set business rates will be devolved, cautiously welcomed his proposals for the creation of a National Infrastructure Commission and supported the move to sell off Lloyds shares.

On the devolution of business rates, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“Businesses are excited about the prospects for devolution, and the promise to devolve business rates will give local authorities a greater stake in the success of their local economy. Businesses have been clear that they want enterprise to be put at the heart of the devolution agenda, and the Chancellor appears to be doing just that. More than sixty per cent of IoD members back local politicians being given the power to set business rates.

“We hope this new deal will pave the way for councils to use these new powers to attract businesses and regenerate high-streets. While businesses support devolution, they will not stand for local politicians using it as an excuse to hike taxes. More than half of IoD members were concerned devolution would lead to higher taxes. Councils must avoid the temptation to increase rates to raise revenues, and instead compete to attract businesses to the area, which will bring jobs and wealth.”

On the national infrastructure commission, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors said:

“Successive governments have proved themselves inept when called upon to take the major infrastructure decisions this country needs. The National Infrastructure Commission is a positive step toward providing the dispassionate analysis of what projects will provide value-for-money solutions.  

“The existence of an independent body means nothing without a strong political commitment. Businesses want more airport capacity. They are demanding faster broadband speeds, a more secure energy network and action to fix shoddy railways across the north of England.

“To succeed, Lord Adonis and George Osborne must put rigorous decision-making at the heart of the Commission, assessing projects on the cost relative to the value they create, and being prepared to ditch eye-catching proposals that don’t stack up. Let us hope the National Infrastructure Commission lives up to its potential.

On the announced sale of Lloyds shares:

“We support the latest announcement of the sale of government shares in Lloyds. Banks belong in the private sector, it is as simple as that. While the government was forced to step in during the depths of the financial crisis, with new regulations on the financial sector in place it is right that the government should reduce its stake in the bank.

“The five per cent discount being offered to members of the public who would like to buy shares in Lloyds will be criticised by some. But with such a large sale, it is perfectly reasonable that the government wants to make the sale quick, clean and give members of the public the chance to get involved.”


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