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Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
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The Yes Minister Miscellany – a Whitehall handbook?

Posted by davidburbage on November 9, 2011

I was amused to see that one of the pieces of advice given by Sir Humphrey in the Yes Minister Miscellany, for any particular problem, is to get the hard part out of the way “in the title”.

The object of his focus in Yes Minister was “Open Government” (which he was of course against).

Nick Clegg said, on publication of the current consultation “We will localise the retention of business rates”.

Getting the tough bit out of the way achieved, the detail actually lays out that the plan (some point at the Treasury) is to basically not give any meaningful control to local authorities at all.

The current proposal may allow some councils to keep some of any increase in rates over a period of time, the measurement of which will be – up to Whitehall. We have responded to the consultation to the effect that the complexity and small effect of the proposals will actually do very little for local government retention of business rates. In fact, if one or two large businesses relocate, we may end up getting even less of a percentage of our rates take despite contributing more to the national pot than most local authorities!

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3 Responses to “The Yes Minister Miscellany – a Whitehall handbook?”

  1. Anonymous said

    What can we do to keep the large businesses here?

  2. At face value the idea of ‘localising the retention of business rates’ sounds both fair and logical. Unfortunately the system is so badly broken that it cannot be fixed so easily. Some areas, particularly in the South East, would have a massive surplus whilst others in places like Yorkshire, would see an instantaneous cut of over 40% in the Formula Grant. Some areas, like Barnsley for example, would suffer disproportionately as they have effectively de-industrialised and have become commuter belts for cities like Leeds and Sheffield. I doubt we will ever find a method of financing local government which addresses all the anomalies of the current system. The previous post asks what you can do to keep large businesses in your area? Probably just as much as we can to persuade them to move North. Nothing unless there is a will to adopt some extremely radical measure such as different rates of corporation tax in different regions but I doubt that is on anyone’s agenda.

  3. davidburbage said

    The great civic buildings of the past and infrastructure investment (I’m thinking of Manchester Town Hall) were funded from local taxes or by private industry. State taxation isn’t the answer to local regeneration; if anything, it sustains dependency. A more mixed economy for local taxation is probably the answer, but if you start with the presumption that “nobody loses” you won’t get very far. Ditto if you start with the presumption that more state funding is the answer to , err, a dependency on state funding !

    (thanks for the other note, btw)

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