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Meetings

Meeting Details

Ealing Business Partnership
6 Feb 2018 - 19:00 to 21:30
  • Documents
  • Attendance
  • Declarations of Interests
  • Visitors

Documents

Agenda

Standard Items
1 Introduction and Welcome
The Chair opened the meeting, and welcomed those present.
2 Apologies for Absence
Apologies had been received in advance of the meeting from Camran Mirza (Vice Chair) and Councillor A Strafford.
3 Urgent Matters
There were none.
4 Declarations of Interest
There were none.
5 Matters to be Considered in Private
There were none.
Carol Sam (Economic Regeneration Senior Manager) reported that 20 businesses had taken part in a pilot project, involving the Council working with food businesses in Southall to provide training on topics such as food hygiene, shop front enhancement and customer service. Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2017, be agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
7 Budget Update 2018 -19

Pursuant to Section 5 of the Access to Information rules, the proper officer has agreed that this report may be published less than five clear working days prior to the meeting and cannot reasonably wait until the next meeting of the Ealing Business Partnership. 

 

The Council has a statutory duty to consult the Ealing Business Partnership by no later than 20th February 2018 on the 2018/19 Budget.  The Ealing Business Partnership meeting is scheduled for 6th February 2018 (which is the only available date before Council on 20th February) so that the Partnership can consider the budget and their views can be taken into account by Council on 20th February.

 

The Ealing Business Partnership report has to include information that is up to date and relevant and also includes information provided externally from the Greater London Authority and the Government so that the Ealing Business Partnership can make an informed judgement and express their views.  This information is not yet available so it is not possible to prepare and publish the report earlier.


Ross Brown (Director of Finance) provided a presentation regarding the Council’s Budget Strategy 2018-19 and invited Ealing Business Partnership to provide comments and express views regarding the proposals.

 

The Director of Finance explained that the Council’s net revenue budget was funded from Government grants, Business Rates and Council Tax income.  The Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy responded to the long–term reduction in funding with revenue support grant eliminated altogether, with the implementation of the London Business Rates Pilot Pool in 2018-19.  It was explained that in future the Council would be reliant on Council Tax, Business Rates and fees and charges to fund its expenditure.  The London Business Rates Pilot Pool 2018-19, proposed that London authorities would retain 100% of Business Rate income.  It was explained that 64% of rates received would be retained by Ealing Council and 36% would paid into the Pool.  The Pool will retain 100% of any growth in Business Rate income.  It was anticipated that the Council’s share would be circa £4.4 million in 2018-19.  The Pool would initially operate for one year, with the aspiration for it to continue for future years.

 

Councillor Johnson (Portfolio Holder for Finance, Performance and Customer Services) explained that in 2016-17 the Local Government Finance Settlement introduced a new flexibility in respect of a social care precept of 2%, which could be levied on Council Tax to fund social care.  The 2017-18 provisional settlement allowed local authorities to increase the precept by up to 3% in 2017-18 and 2018-19, although the total increase could not exceed 6% over the three years to 2019-20.

 

The overall financial situation continued to present the Council with significant challenges and was expected to do so for a number of years.  The Council’s medium term financial projections showed a continuing reduction in Central Government support.  The ongoing budget had increasing costs relating to inflation and service pressures. 

 

Councillor Johnson reported that the Council had a legal duty to set a balanced budget, and for the 2018/19 budget, the proposed 2.99% council tax increase would assist in meeting the increasing costs of adult social care.

 

Councillor Bell explained that the proposed increase was one of the options that would be by Cabinet.

 

The Chair asked if it was anticipated the income from Business Rates, under the London Pilot Pool would be sufficient to mitigate the loss of central Government funding.  In addition, he asked if the savings which had been identified would be ‘one off’ savings or if they would be repeatable in subsequent years.

 

The Director of Finance explained the budget had been designed to be sustainable.  The 2018/19 budget included a number of one off savings, efficiencies and investments to grow income.  He further explained that although the Council could currently retain Business Rates received, the Government was currently undertaking a Fair Funding Review.  The Review aimed to set a new baseline for funding allocations for local authorities by delivering an up-to-date assessment of their relative needs and resources.  Therefore, in future there was a possibility that Business Rates would be re-distributed to authorities outside of London.

 

Resolved:  That the Budget Update be noted.


8 Business Rates Update

Pursuant to Section 5 of the Access to Information rules, the proper officer has agreed that this report may be published less than five clear working days prior to the meeting and cannot reasonably wait until the next meeting of the Ealing Business Partnership. 

 

The Council has a statutory duty to consult the Ealing Business Partnership by no later than 20th February on the 2018/19 Budget.  The Ealing Business Partnership meeting is scheduled for 6th February 2018 (which is the only available date before Council on 20th February) so that the Partnership can consider the budget and their views can be taken into account by Council on 20th February.

 

The Ealing Business Partnership report has to include information that is up to date and relevant and also includes information provided externally from the Greater London Authority and the Government so that the Ealing Business Partnership can make an informed judgement and express their views.  This information is not yet available so it is not possible to prepare and publish the report earlier.


Nick Rowe (Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable) provided a presentation in relation to Business Rates collected by the Council.

 

He explained that the Valuation Office Agency set the rateable values for business properties, and the Government set the multiplier.  He reported that the 2018-19 Business Rate demands would continue to be billed in 12 month instalments for businesses who had requested this; and all new and direct debit accounts would be set to 12 month instalments.  The 2018-19 bills would be processed at the beginning of March, and issued on or before 12 March 2018.  The Partnership was informed that the Borough of Ealing was the 12th largest in terms of rates collectable in London and 8th largest by number of National Non-Domestic Rate properties.

 

The Partnership was advised that in April 2016 the Council had introduced a new discount scheme for businesses accredited with the Living Wage Foundation (LWF).  The discount was twice the cost of the LWF accreditation.

 

The Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable reported that the Government had announcement that local authorities would in future be allowed to retain the Business Rates collected.  However, a scheme of tariffs, transfers and top-ups would be introduced to decide how the rates were distributed.  From April 2018 the London Business Rates Pilot Pool would commence. 

 

The Partnership was informed that Discretionary Relief funding had been provided to each local authority to allow the award of rate relief to qualifying ratepayers on the basis of discretionary rate relief policies determined by the local authority.

 

The Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable informed the Partnership that after the 2017 revaluation period, until 2022, there would be 3-yearly revaluations. He further reported that the Government’s spring budget contained relief schemes announced by the Chancellor, namely the Public House Relief, Supporting Small Business Relief, and the Discretionary Relief Fund, to assist different groups of ratepayers in response to concerns about the impact of revaluation.  

 

In concluding his presentation, the Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable informed the Partnership of the Mazars Case (also known as the “Stairway Tax”), in which the Supreme Court ruled that non-contiguous floors within the same office block could not be judged as the same unit or ‘hereditament’ for the purpose of paying business rates (Woolway [Appellant] v Mazars [Respondent][2015]).

 

The Chair invited questions from attendees.

 

A representative of a local business/organisation raised concern that his business rates had significantly increased, due to a re-evaluation of their property rateable value.  The Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable agreed to discuss the details of the case with the attendee.

 

The Economic Regeneration Senior Manager asked attendees, if the change in Business Rates would raise the expectations of the business community, in terms the services and provisions it received back from the local authority.

 

Councillor Johnson explained that some business owners did not live in the Borough.  It was therefore important to engage with businesses and to encourage dialogue with the Local Authority.  Councillor Ranjit Dheer added that although the Council was the billing authority, it did not set the valuation rate, and this ought to be communicated more effectively to businesses.

 

A representative of a local business/organisation commented that the valuation appeal process was protracted and asked if the process could be expedited.

 

The Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable explained that officers were equally concerned about the length of time it took to conclude appeals.   The process was being reviewed and it was envisaged that the process would be shortened, in view of moving to the 3 yearly revaluations of rates from the current 5 years.

 

The Chair asked whether savings or new monies raised from revaluation was having a positive impact on the lives of residents and businesses.

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Julian Bell, responded that even at a time when council finances were reducing, demands were rising, especially relating to social care costs, the Council continued to meet its obligations, and have a positive impact on residents and business organisations.

 

Resolved: That the Business Rates Update be noted.


9 Table Discussion
Roundtable discussions will be structured around the key themes of the papers.
The Chair invited attendees at each table to discuss key themes and issues.
10 Feedback from the Table Discussions

Table 1 – Some concerns were raised in relation to Business Rates and the valuation process.  Attendees felt the valuation process required reform.  It was noted that businesses that occupied properties paid high rates, whereas businesses that operated on-line businesses were able to operate without the overhead Business Rate.

 

Table 2 – Attendees highlighted the importance of community cohesion and integration and encouraging business owners to invest in the local community.  It was suggested that the Pitzhanger Village Traders’ Association was a good example of community business practice and the Chairman of the Association could be asked to attend a Partnership meeting to provide a presentation.

 

Table 3 – Attendees noted the disparity in the valuation process between on-line businesses and those that occupied properties.  Attendees acknowledged that business valuations were undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency and the local authority had no control of the rateable values set.

 

The Chair said it would be beneficial to the residents of Ealing if future meetings could be held in venues around the Borough.


11 Discussion regarding Future Ealing Business Partnership Meetings 2018-19
The Chair suggested that the next meeting be held in Southall. There was some discussion regarding future topics / themes to be discussed at meetings, including: digital Ealing, small business support, and the possibility of a presentation from the Chairman of Pitzhanger Village Traders' Association.
12 Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on 26 June 2018 (provisional).

ANDREW DAKERS

(CHAIR)

THE MEETING FINISHED AT 8:35 PM.

Attendance

Name
No other member attendance information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
Camran Mirza  
Councillor Alexander Stafford  
NameReason for AbsenceSubstituted By
Councillor Gregory Stafford  

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

EALING COUNCIL OFFICERS: Ross Brown (Director of Finance), Nick Rowe (Head of Local Tax and Accounts Receivable), Henry Kennedy-Skipton (Head of Regeneration), Carol Sam (Economic Regeneration Senior Manager), Janine Jenkinson (Democratic Services) and Mwim Chellah (Democratic Services).

 

REPRESENTATIVES OF LOCAL BUSINESS/ORGANISATIONS: Jas Bhachu (Apey ZZ Ltd), Richard Morse (FSB), John Gallagher (WLTUC), Gillian Spragg (West London Arts Scene), Ann McLaughlin  (Physio Practice), Dipak Raiphada (Webiti), Naluab Karimb (Nava and Co), and Manish Buse (Ikun Dental)