District Councils collect extra £3.3 million business rates

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Government backing for East Lindsey District Council and Boston Borough Council to maximise business rates income has seen estimated financial outcomes trebled in the first three years of operation.

The bid for extra funding from Government was approved in 2014 when the councils were given £125,820 from a £16 million national pot to fight fraud and evasion.

The original forecast for 2015-2018 was £1.1 million, but the councils have actually uncovered an additional £3.3 million between them in under-assessed business rates.

The East Coast Business Rates Assurance project aims to seek out missing business rate liabilities so that correctly-rated firms, who pay their rates on time, do not have to compete unfairly against those who are not paying their proper share.

Business Rates Assurance Managers, Andy Hall and Mike Carr, have been working closely with internal and external services, partners and organisations to uncover premises that are not correctly assessed for business rates, to identify companies evading their liabilities to pay rates, and to help maximise business rates collected by the two councils.

Generally speaking, 40 per cent of the additional rates income is kept by borough and district councils.

Councillor Richard Fry, portfolio holder for finance at East Lindsey District Council, said: “East Lindsey District Council is committed to supporting economic development throughout the district and creating a more level playing field through our business rates is a positive step in that direction.

“The extra income will also provide a measure of help as we face reduced funding from central Government.”

Councillor Aaron Spencer, Boston Borough Council’s finance portfolio holder, added: “This work has enabled us to offset some of the reduction in resources that faces all councils.

“We are determined to tackle fraud and evasion of all types, so ensuring equity and fairness within our business community and helping to keep council tax levels down for our residents.”