New £3.3m business rates deal sparks fresh hope for Solent super council

Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight have worked together to secure a business rates trial
Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight have worked together to secure a business rates trial
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MILLIONS of pounds will be pumped into the area as a result of a new government deal – one city leaders have touted as a ‘huge step forward’ towards creating a combined Solent super council.

Portsmouth City Council, alongside authorities in Southampton and the Isle of Wight, has been named in a major government shake-up of how business rates are used.

As part of the national trial, the councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of the cash collected in their areas – a move which could be worth £1m for Portsmouth and £3.3m for Solent as a whole.

All three of the authorities worked together to submit a joint bid to bring the cash windfall to the county, in a move Portsmouth’s council boss Councillor Donna Jones said proved the institutions could unite to tackle major schemes.

She said: ‘This is a huge step forwards towards a Solent Combined Authority which would see over £30m a year spent on similar schemes and would mean the three unitary councils working closer together on major projects.’

The business rates scheme, involving 10 areas, was revealed by communities and local government secretary, Sajid Javid.

At the moment, councils can only keep half of the cash raised by business rates – the money companies pay instead of council tax – with the rest going to central government.

In return for the extra funding from business rates, councils will each give up an equivalent amount of funding received annually from Whitehall.

But they will keep all growth in business rates.

The government pledged no council will be worse off, saying authorities would benefit from the extra money made through business growth.

Cllr Jones now hopes a devolution deal will be announced early next year.

She said: ‘My message to the government and secretary of state is clear: all three councils are here, ready and waiting for a devolution deal. We’re ready to roll our sleeves up get stuck in.’

The new business rate trial will last for a year, beginning in April 2018.