Government accepts CTB amendments
The Local Government Finance Bill was passed yesterday, with the Government accepting amendments to independently review the impact of localised council tax benefit (CTB) schemes within three years.
Introducing the Lords amendments during the third reading in the Commons, local government minister, Brandon Lewis, said the business rates retention scheme would ‘for the first time in a generation, allow local areas to share in the proceeds of growth'.
Mr Lewis said the amendments clarify the basis on which local authorities can apply for a safety net payment on account, simplify ‘pooling arrangements’ among authorities and operate on local government’s preferred ‘collection fund approach’ - currently used for council tax.
Mr Lewis’s predecessor as local government minister, Bob Neill, told MPs the technical amendments to the Bill contain devices and tools rendering ‘unnecessary’ any ‘imposed form of unitary restructuring’ – as Lord Heseltine proposed in his eagerly awaited growth review.
Lord Heseltine suggested the abolition of district councils as a way of simplifying the relationship between businesses and local authorities and encouraging economic growth.
Mr Neill – now Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party following the autumn reshuffle – said: ‘The first Lords’ amendment is important because it enables pooling, and pooling is one reason why irrelevances such as unitary reorganisation need not trouble the Government in the future.’
The next stage is for the Bill to receive Royal Assent - the final step for it to become enacted as law - a DCLG spokesman confirmed.
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