All local authorities in England should be allowed to keep a greater share than they do currently of business rates so they can afford to fund social care properly, says UNISON today (Wednesday).
The union is urging the government to grant councils better terms along similar lines to a deal agreed earlier this month with Surrey County Council.
Councils are currently only allowed to keep half the rates they get from local businesses. But Surrey has been told it can hold on to more of the cash it raises in return for abandoning a referendum on increasing council tax by 15 per cent.
The £1.8bn cost of allowing similar arrangements to Surrey’s countrywide is easily affordable, UNISON argues. The forecast business rates surplus – money collected by the government but not allocated for spending – is £6.6bn for the next financial year (2017-18).
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Social care is in crisis with dedicated staff struggling to cope with ever-increasing demand.
“The government has recognised Surrey County Council needs more cash by allowing it to keep more of its business rates. But one council shouldn’t be allowed a better deal just because it threatened a politically embarrassing referendum.
“All councils providing social care need to be treated equally. An agreement should be drawn up now allowing them to keep more of their business rates too. This is the only way that those in desperate need of support will get the care they deserve.”