Agenda item

Business Rate Pool

a)    To receive an update on the Business Rate Pool, as well as a summary of the last few years.


b)    To discuss the attached Strategic Approach for a SEDF funding pipeline.


c)    To receive a verbal update on the City Region Board.






5.1       The Chair invited Andrew Cummings, Strategic Director of Resources for Stroud District Council, and Gareth Edmundson, Chief Executive of Cheltenham Borough Council, to give an update on the Business Rate Pool and to discuss the Strategic Approach for a Strategic Economic Development Fund (SEDF) funding pipeline.


5.2       Gloucestershire operated a business rates pool under the 50% rates retention system. This pooling generates a saving in the levy returned to Central Government which is then distributed amongst Gloucestershire authorities. If the Business Rate Pool did not exist, the money would be placed back into Central Government.  It was noted that the latest forecast of rate income for the current year showed an estimated pool gain of £4.369, a small reduction from the initial forecast of £4.549 million. The Section 151 Officers Group had briefly discussed the options around Pooling and the clear consensus view was that until such times as there was wider reform of local government funding, the pool should be continued.


5.3       The Joint Committee had previously considered and approved the eligibility criteria and project approval process for the assessment of any future funding bids to and awarded from the Strategic Economic Development Fund in November 2018. It was decided by the Senior Officer Group that there should be a change from the current ‘first come, first served, SEDF funding to a system which allowed for all bids to be considered before choosing the one to allocate funding to. This was because there was concern that not all projects maximised the economic benefit and growth to the county which is specifically what the funding should be used for. For the full details of the SEDF recommendations made by the Senior Officer Group to be reformed from the establishment of the new City Region Board, please view the agenda report pack.


5.4       A member stated that every bid should include how the project would add to the county’s climate change strategy, but the other members disagreed with this idea because whilst they all believed that no new bids should have a negative effect on climate change, not every bid needed to directly decrease the effects of climate change. Instead, a member suggested that the reports could include the Climate Assessment Tool which was currently used by Cheltenham Borough Council. The committee were informed that the Climate Assessment Tool focused on making sure that officers thought about their impact on climate change and if they needed to mitigate the impact. It was decided that there should be some recognition of the need for climate change consideration. It was asked by members that the Senior Officer Group would find a consensus on how that was best worded in the funding bid outline document. 


ACTION – Gareth Edmundson


5.5       The officers were also invited to give an update on the progress of the new City Region Board. It was confirmed that legal representatives from each council within the county had been working together to draft the Inter-Authority Agreement for the City Region Board. A working final draft had been circulated. It was emphasised that the main change was that GCC would chair the City Region Board going forward. Once the draft had been finalised, it would then be taken to each council’s cabinet to be ratified. The City Region Board would begin from this point.



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