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Rates vote rule gets a welcome

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An obligation for councils to give local firms a say before any Business Rates Supplement (BRS) is introduced has been welcomed by a leading business group.

The new Localism Bill includes a requirement that English local councils outside London poll businesses and secure majority support before any BRS is implemented.

The move was applauded by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Since April 2010 councils have had the power, under the BRS rules, to add up to 5 per cent to business rates bills in order to fund local economic development and infrastructure projects.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC’s director general, said: “Compulsory business ballots are a major victory. It would be fundamentally undemocratic to put extra taxes on local businesses without establishing their views first and assessing the potential impact on jobs.”