The current system sees Waverley retain just 5% of the £36m collected from businesses in the borough each year, to fund services and invest in the community. The councillors argue that this is both unfair and unsustainable, as it simply doesn't provide a financial incentive or level of certainty to help the council to invest in and regenerate its communities.
They maintain that the system is also unfair to businesses, whose charges often bear little relation to their business value or revenue. The pandemic has compounded this issue, as bricks and mortar retailers in particular have struggled, while many online businesses have thrived.
Councillor John Ward, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said:
"We're very concerned about the effect the current system has on our local businesses. Sectors such as warehousing and online typically pay a tiny fraction of their revenue in Business Rates – in contrast with local high street businesses, who are offering value and convenience to customers, generating jobs and helping ensure vibrant local economies.
"We understand the Government's desire to redistribute funds to balance needs nationally, but retaining just 5% of total revenue doesn’t give us the ability to improve and invest in our towns and villages. Local businesses need to see that their money is being used to invest in local communities and infrastructure. The seriousness of this situation is emphasised by the fact that all political parties have agreed with this."
The letter to Robert Jenrick MP is available on the council’s website.