“Give us the Tools to Build a Better Future” – Copeland MP

Following the Chancellor’s announcement of the phasing out of the Local Government grant to be replaced by changes to business rates retention by local authorities, Copeland MP called on the Government to go further.

 The Chancellor’s announcement has already started to unravel with confusion about what his plans mean in practice.  While local government as a whole will retain local taxes, taxes raised in a specific local authority may not be retained by that authority.  With Sellafield in Copeland Borough, the local MP, Jamie Reed has written to the Chancellor calling for clarity and for the local council to retain all business rates generated at Sellafield.

 Sellafield Limited has a current rateable value of £65,590,000 and with the current rate calculator multiplier set at 49.3 pence in the pound, it generates £32 million of business rates each year.  Retaining this money could allow Copeland Borough Council to invest in local infrastructure, closing the skills gap and ensuring young people can take advantage of the opportunities coming to West Cumbria.

 Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said: 

West Cumbria is on the verge of a truly transformative era.  Our best days are ahead of us.  As a community, we are preparing to succeed, but in order to reach our economic potential, the Government needs to give us the tools to build a better future. 

“Sellafield plays a nationally strategic role and allowing Copeland Borough Council to retain the business rates generated at Sellafield would be a recognition of the service our community provides to the rest of the country. 

“By retaining this locally generated tax to spend on local services, we could invest in our roads and rail, we could further invest in schools and training, we could regenerate our town centres and we could build a brighter future for our young people.  I have written to the Government to make the case for reforming business rates to allow Copeland to retain more of the money it generates. The notion of economic regeneration in Copeland would be redundant if we were able to access the business rates paid by Sellafield.”

Here is the full text of Jamie’s Letter to the Chancellor:

Dear Chancellor,

Business Rates Retention

Copeland is an area of unique national strategic importance. 

For over half a century, Sellafield has played a leading role in the UK’s military and civil nuclear development.  It is home to the world’s first civil nuclear facility and in addition to undertaking groundbreaking R&D, Sellafield is the centre of nuclear decommissioning expertise in Britain and arguably the world.  

This expertise and the resultant supply chain development has the potential to be a key driver in local and national economic growth through supporting well paid, highly skilled jobs, exporting knowledge, building international partnerships and encouraging further inward investment.  Through this, Copeland has the potential to be a key driver in the economic prosperity of the country as a whole and critically in the effort to ‘rebalance’ the UK economy. With your recently announced proposals to change business rates retention, (a feature of the Labour manifesto) you have the opportunity to acknowledge the unique national role that Copeland plays; I hope that you will now take this opportunity.

The budget for Copeland Borough Council has been reduced significantly since 2010, despite the area and a significant number of people living in the area providing a nationally important service. 

According to the Value Office Agency, the current rateable value for Sellafield Ltd is £65,590,000.  With a current multiplier of 49.3 pence in the pound, Sellafield Ltd generates £32,335,870 before any rate relief schemes are applied.  This figure doesn’t take into account the rateable value of other contractors operating on the Sellafield site.

Your announcement to Conservative Party Conference regarding business rates retention was unclear and omitted key details.  Can you confirm that business rates generated will be retained by the local authority in which the business operates?  If not, will you commit to allowing Copeland to retain the rates generated by Sellafield in recognition of the strategic role the community plays by hosting this facility?

As the heart of Britain’s Energy Coast, West Cumbria stands on the verge of a truly transformative era which should see us become one of the fastest growing parts of the U.K. Without Government funding, we have recently secured funding for a new school campus, we are about to see the biggest ever single private investment in our community and we are building international partnerships throughout the world thanks to our expertise in the nuclear industry and our local economic plan.

By retaining all, or at least the majority of the business rates generated by Sellafield, Copeland and West Cumbria as a whole could invest in the much needed infrastructure improvements, therefore unlocking more economic potential.  We could also invest to close the widening skills gap and work to regenerate our towns and villages to encourage more businesses to come to the region.

Our communities can achieve great things, but in order to fulfil this potential, government must assist and give us the tools we need. Allowing Copeland to retain these business rates would give the region the tools it needs whilst also recognising the nationally important role we play.

I look forward to your reply and am available to discuss these matters with you at any time.


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