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Suffolk business rates pilot to stop next year, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announces

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A funding pot which generated more than £10million for regeneration projects across Suffolk will not continue next year, it has emerged.

Suffolk was one of 10 areas across the country to be selected for a one-year pilot scheme by central government which allowed councils to retain 100% of business rates collected.

Previously, 50% had to be passed on to central government.

The pilot generated £10.4m for the county this year, which was split between 29 projects.

Cllr Jennie Jenkins. (6447544)
Cllr Jennie Jenkins. (6447544)

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that it would not continue with a 100% scheme, but would open applications for 2019/20 for 75% retention.

Suffolk had entered a bid for this, but in the latest funding settlement for councils it emerged that it had been unsuccessful.

Councillor Jennie Jenkins, independent chairman of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group, a meeting of all council leaders and chief executives, said the news was disappointing, but did not threaten the funding already allocated for projects this year.

“We were all pleased that collectively Suffolk’s authorities were successful in bidding to be part of the government’s 100% business rate pilot 2018/19.

“This additional income is now being used to drive a number of strategic projects through the agreement of all council leaders.

“Whilst it was disappointing to learn we would not be part of the group of authorities to pilot 75% retention in 2019/20, we can see exactly how the government is trying to give local authority areas across the country a fair opportunity to benefit from this scheme.”

Among the headline schemes to use the additional cash this year were regeneration of Ipswich Waterfront Gateway, which had been allocated £1m, £500,000 towards the hotel and cinema complex in Sudbury town centre, and £800,000 towards improving drainage in Woodbridge.

Rishi Sunak, local government minister, said the bids meant some tough decisions had to be made, but it was eyeing a national roll-out of the 75% retention rate from 2020.

“We are taking action to build a fairer, more self-sufficient and resilient future for local government,” he said.

“These pilots lay the foundation of our ambition to roll-out 75% business rates retention across the country from 2020, so every council will have greater control to invest where they have the greatest need.”

The full list


•£500,000-£700,000 – Waterfront Gateway

•£500,000 – Enhanced public areas such as the Cornhill, Arras Square

•£300,000 – Addressing Ipswich housing pressures, including homelessness provision and for adults with learning disabilities

•£200,000 – The Hold

West Suffolk

•£500,000-£700,000 – Brandon Health and Leisure Centre

•£500,000-£700,000 – Development of sports hall in Newmarket

•£250,000 – Supporting highways and infrastructure schemes

•£200,000 – Supporting Western Way development

•£500,000 – Expanding social prescribing

•£TBA – Deliver town centre masterplans for Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill

Babergh and Mid Suffolk

•£500,000 – Sudbury town centre development

•£200,000 – Angel Court housing development

•£200,000 – investing in the Delphi site as a business centre

•£40,000 – SMART Grid energy project for the former Sugar Beet site

•£240,000 – Revamp of the Stowmarket Natwest building

•£300,000 – Develop Needham Lake visitor centre

•£200,000 – Develop a tech hub in Stowmarket

•£150,000 – Support the Stowmarket Foyer redevelopment

•£50,000 – Develop a youth support sceheme in Stowmarket with The Mix

East Suffolk

•£200,000 – Develop a Future Fibre network in Lowestoft

•£100,000 – First Light Festival in Lowestoft

•£500,000 – Developing supported housing in Cleveland Road for autistic people to live independently

•£200,000 – Lowestoft Heritage Action Zone project

•£100,000 – Tourism development in Aldeburgh/Slaughden

•£300,000 – Felixstowe Seafront south development

•£200,000 – Felixstowe Seafront Leisure Centre development

•£200,000 – Leiston Leisure Centre development

•£100,000 – Rendlesham Village Centre

•£800,000 – Car parking and drainage in Woodbridge