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Alex raises concern over business rates in Stockton

A government Minister has given an undertaking that Stockton Council will not lose out through any changes the way property is valued for business rates.

The undertaking was made to Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham who raised the issue during questions to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, after concerns were raised by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

The Council was concerned on two fronts – the revaluation in particular of telecommunications assets in the Borough and the impact on small business of increased business rates which show huge and varying valuations for similar businesses.

Alex asked in the Commons:

“The revaluation of property for business rates is creating uncertainty for businesses and local authorities. Stockton faces two different problems: small leisure businesses have been priced out of our town centre; and telecommunications companies are fighting their valuations, potentially knocking huge holes in the council’s budget. How will small businesses be protected? Will the Minister assure me that the 2017-18 finance settlement will take future valuations and changes into account so that Stockton Council will be no worse off?”

Marcus Jones, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government replied:

“On business, there is a record package of £6.7 billion of business rates relief. On local government funding, I assure him that the revaluation process is a revenue-neutral exercise after which no local authority will be disadvantaged.”

Alex commented on the response given by the minister:

“Our local council isn’t the only one in the North East of England that has suffered huge cuts in funding from the Tory Government and need certainty about funding over the next few years.

That said, I am pleasantly surprised that the minister offered to guarantee that Stockton council will not be disadvantaged. However, it is only when we see the detail of any settlement that we will see if the Minister’s guarantee has any real worth.”