Calls to make business rate appeal harder rebuffed
The government has rejected calls to scrap a proposal which would make it harder for businesses to make successful appeals against business rates valuations. In an August consultation, the Department for Communities and Local Government sprung a surprise by consulting on a proposal that Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) should only grant a business rate appeal where their view is that the valuation is “outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement”. Some respondents suggested that the new approach could lead to large differences between similar properties, where two valuations were at the opposing ends of the bounds of reasonable professional judgement. This week, the government said: “We continue to believe that VTE decisions should reflect the degree of judgement involved in the valuation process, and that we need to focus limited VTE resources on genuine cases rather than the speculative appeals backed by little evidence that clog up the system and cause delay and uncertainty for local government and business.” However, it said that, following a suggestion from the Valuation Tribunal Service it would change the wording to require a “reasonable valuation”.
Northern Trust wins 12th LGPS framework mandate
Northern Trust has been appointed by Scottish Borders Council to provide global custody, accounting, performance measurement, cash management and foreign exchange services for its £550m pension fund assets. The mandate is the 12th won by the fund manager under the Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) National Framework Agreement. Councillor Bill White, chair of the council’s pension fund committee, said: “Northern Trust demonstrated its ability to provide solutions tailored to our specific needs, for example meeting our future accounting requirements.”
Combined authority to get £600m for infrastructure
A new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority will be given £600m from central government over 30 years to create a fund to unlock infrastructure investment and boost economic growth. The fund will form part of, and capitalise the Combined Authority, and be made up of 60% capital and 40% revenue funding. The deal will also see government providing the combined authority an additional £70m capital over five years ring fenced for housing in Cambridge.
Basildon approves £80m property strategy
Basildon Council’s cabinet has approved a commercial asset acquisition strategy that could see it eventually spend £80m buying up property to generate £1.6m of income each year. Council leader Phil Turner said: “The council is able to borrow at good rates, so borrowing to invest in commercial property to make money we can then spend on services for local people makes good sense.” The investments could be made anywhere in the UK, the council said.