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Archive for July, 2011

Winners and Losers

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The Government are proposing to introduce what they see as a fairer way of collecting and distributing the taxes we collect from our businesses.

At the moment business rates are set centrally, collected locally and redistributed. Until now they have been paid to the Treasury and redistributed to all local authorities according to need and population.

Areas of high need and deprivation get the most money. That always seemed fair to me. These areas stand to lose the most if the Government fails to protect them.

Under the proposed new system there will be winners and losers. Westminster, without any protections in the new system, could benefit from over a £1 billion extra, while we would lose a significant amount on this formula.

This obviously leaves me with many unanswered questions; for example how do they intend to localise business rates without cutting funding to areas like ours?

Like a London School of Economics expert recently said: “The risk is the northern authorities will find it impossible to attract businesses as fast as councils in the south. If that happens, the gap between the south and the north will widen.”

The Government have said that no council will be worse off in the first year, but what about subsequent years?

We will have to wait and see.

Why we need High Speed Two

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

A number of discussions this week will centre on investigating ways in which we can develop new ideas for closing the £30bn productivity gap between our region and the South East.

The current economic climate dictates that we need to explore every opportunity we can to boost our region and its economy to bring us more in line with the more prosperous regions of the country.

I put forward a motion to Full Council this week calling for the chamber to show its support for a high speed rail link that would lead to a share of a £1 billion-a-year economic boost for the region.

High Speed 2, as it is known, which would provide high speed rail links between Manchester, Birmingham and London is a key opportunity that would really benefit the North West economy and would be pivotal in closing the widening economic gap.

We are working side-by-side with our Greater Manchester colleagues to this end in an attempt to clearly demonstrate how much we all feel this project is needed in our region.

That is why I decided it was important to put this motion before the Full Council and seek, not only their support, but that of their colleagues and their colleagues’ colleagues.

It is important that as many people as possible make their views known to government and that we do not miss this opportunity to boost our region’s economy. Make no mistake there are those in the leafy south who are steadfast in their opposition to this much-needed boost; but this should only serve as a rallying call to the rest of us to unite behind this crucial project.

Monday, July 18th, 2011

This week has seen more uncertainty about the speed that the UK economy is recovering from the recession. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has lowered its growth predictions to just 0.1 per cent for the second quarter with Citigroup predicting that the economy is still shrinking.

A recent survey by Deloitte of UK company finance directors showed that one third expect the economy to fall back into recession. We will know the truth in a couple of weeks when the latest figures are released.

Whilst there is little we can do to influence the UK economy, there is much we can do to influence and support the local economy in Tameside.

I recently chaired the fifth Tameside Works First business summit meeting. Thirty local business leaders and entrepreneurs met to discuss a range of important issues including how businesses and schools can work much closer to develop and nurture talent and enterprise in young people; what kind of businesses support does the borough need in the future; how the Tameside Business Family can help to deliver it and the introduction of a voluntary employment charter to encourage employers to create more apprenticeship opportunities for local people.

It is clear that the future success and prosperity of Tameside is reliant on a thriving local economy. In the current economic climate it’s therefore vital that we take Tameside Works First to the next level and use it to ensure that our businesses have the best chance of surviving and that they can create employment opportunities for our residents.

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