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Business rate scheme which generated more than £10 million for Suffolk will not continue

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Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6692443)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6692443)

A funding pot, which generated more than £10 million 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 per cent of business rates collected.

Previously, 50 per cent had to be passed on to central government.

The pilot generated a total of £10.4 million for the county, which was divided between 29 different projects.

Among the schemes in Babergh to benefit from the cash was the regeneration of Sudbury town centre, the which was allocated £500,000.

A further £200,000 was given to the Angel Court housing development in Hadleigh, and £200,000 towards investing in the Delphi site as a business centre.

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

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

Jennie Jenkins, independent chairman of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group, said the news was disappointing, but did not threaten the funding already allocated for projects this year.

“We were all pleased that Suffolk’s authorities were successful in bidding to be part of the government’s 100 per cent business rate pilot in 2018/19,” she said.

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

“While it was disappointing to learn we would not be part of the group of authorities to pilot 75 per cent 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 the scheme.”

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

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