DON Valley MP Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, has warned that councils face a funding black hole worth billions because of changes to business rates.
Ms Flint said: “For all their talk of localism, time and again this Government has been caught out hitting local councils and communities.
“First they saddled local government with huge, front loaded cuts that go too far and too fast.
“Now we find out that despite promising to let councils keep any increase in local business rates, the Government plan to take a cut for themselves; and the Government’s cut will get bigger every year, as councils chase their elusive growth targets.”
And Doncaster Council Labour group leader Sandra Holland added: “These plans could have a devastating effect on the borough and the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Yet again this government is taking money from where it is most needed and giving it to prosperous areas, robbing the north to pay the south.
“And now we see that they plan to take a slice of any increase in business rates if a town like Doncaster attracts new business.
“It’s not localism, it’s daylight robbery.”
Ms Flint said: “The whole point of localising business rates is to give local authorities an incentive to grow their business base and create jobs.
“Letting central government top-slice business rate growth is the worst of all worlds and a raw deal for local government.
“If a town’s business base shrinks the council will take the loss, but if it does well the Government gets a bigger cut.
“People will be rightly sceptical that the plans to localise business rates are just funding cuts dressed up as localism.”
Doncaster Council is having to slash its budget by £70 million over the next three years.
As a result, up to 1,400 jobs have been shed by the local authority, proposals to change conditions of service proposed for staff, services cut and charges for some services have risen.
The latest plan is to create a council contact centre to deal with all calls to the council using just three telephone numbers.
If it goes ahead, the centre will save £4million a year but is likely to cost in the region of 150 more jobs.