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DOUBT OVER LAB OVER BUSINESS RATE PLEDGE

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A Labour government is unlikely to hand business rates back to local control, according to an authoritative analysi...
A Labour government is unlikely to hand business rates back to local control, according to an authoritative analysis of party policy.

The prediction comes from consultancy Public Policy Unit in New Labour, New Government?, a detailed study for the firm's business clients of what Labour is likely to do in power.

The local government section is written by David Gardner, who was head of Labour's local government department and retains close links with the party.

The study says 'there is little enthusiasm in business circles for local determination and this issue will be well down Labour's list of priorities'.

It says 'there has been little pressure for change and arguments as to whether localising the rate will promote or undermine local partnerships [with business] are evenly balanced'.

In the past, the scrapping of the business rate has been a central demand of local government, and Labour's policy statement on local government published in 1995, Renewing democracy, rebuilding communities, said Labour was committed to returning the business rate to local control.

But in recent months some local government figures have acknowledged that scrapping of the uniform business rate is unlikely, because it would raise the spectre of businesses having to pay higher rates.

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