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Local rates a 'no-go' CBI chief warns

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Any proposals to free councils to set their own business rates would be opposed by the CBI, the business lobby group’s new head has warned.

Speaking to the Financial Times on his first day as CBI director general, John Cridland said any move to free local councils to set their own business rates would be a “no-go area” for the CBI.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has said the government’s local government resource review would look at measures to re-localise business rates. However it is not clear at this stage if councils would be free to set their own rates.

But speaking last week, Mr Pickles said he would also need to ensure that “the business community has the certainty and stability it needs”. He said: “I want to give councils the green light to become more innovative and work more closely with business - not to rack up the business rates.”

Mr Cridland also warned that the government’s Localism Bill, with plans to give communities greater control over planning decision, could create barriers to growth. He told the FT: “The localism agenda is what worries us most about what might hold us back. The jury is out and I have talked to Mr Pickles about this.”

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