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14 June 2019

Publish date: 14/06/2019

This week the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rishi Sunak MP announced that property revaluations for business rates payers in England will now take place every 3 years; an increase in frequency from the current 5. In consequence, the 2022 revaluation will now take place a year earlier in 2021. Whilst underpinning the economy and ensuring retention and indeed revitalisation of the high-street are exceptionally important drivers, the resulting economic impact on local authorities could be substantial. The Government, as we know, has phased out revenue support grants making local authorities wholly reliant on local income. Business rates will form an important part of this revenue. LLG are pulling together several questions for the Ministry to answer in a live webinar taking place on the 19th June 2019. We will certainly be asking whether a contingency budget to cushion a drop off in business rates and council tax due to economic instability and increasing unemployment will be provided outside of the pledged 58 million. We will also be pushing to know if the Government has analysed the number of local authorities which could be pushed over the edge post Brexit, based on the number of councils finding themselves in an increasingly precarious financial position, together with their plan for delayed economic shock.

We are already seeing a knock-on effect on services within the regulatory field. The National Audit Office (NAO) this week warned that food standards check's fell to 37% of those required with spending cut by 19%. Head of the NAO, Gareth Davies said, "The regulatory system is showing signs of strain with fewer food control staff in local authorities and delays in the checks they carry out on food businesses" and called for the Government to evaluate the impact of Brexit. We will certainly be asking the Ministry what planning around the impact on Trading Standards in regard to capacity and resilience has taken place. Meanwhile the District Councils' Network at a parliamentary inquiry on the strategy implications for councils in respect of the Government's resources and waste strategy announced "zero confidence" that councils will be compensated by the Government for new burdens arising from the new functions. The reforms include free garden waste collections, food waste collections by every council and consistency in recycling.

LLG have pulled together a wide variety of questions covering numerous disciplines to put to the Ministry live, next Wednesday 19th June 2019 at 1pm. You can register and listen free to what they have to say here.

Best wishes

Helen McGrath

Head of Public Affairs