COUNCILS across Suffolk have linked up in a bid to claim part of the county’s business rates.

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The county and seven borough and district councils have formed a pool to collect and distribute part of Suffolk’s business rates.

At present all the business rates collected in the county have to be sent directly to Whitehall which then redistributes them to authorities across the country.

Suffolk businesses currently pay around £250million a year in business rates. By creating a pool, it means more money can stay in Suffolk.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said this would not be the case if the councils were not working together.

“By the end of this year, it should become clear how much financial benefit Suffolk could see as a result of the move.

County council leader Mark Bee said: “These changes represent a real opportunity for Suffolk to take more control over its future and move away from an over-reliance on central government for funding which, as we all know, can cause great uncertainty during difficult financial times.

“There is also no guarantee that Suffolk will get its fair share of funding once it’s been redistributed.

“Suffolk is a county with huge economic potential across a range of business sectors so I’m confident that this move will mean more investment in the county in the future.”

The move has cross-party support.

The Labour leader of Ipswich council, David Ellesmere, said: “We believe we should be able to keep more money raised from Ipswich businesses as it will help us to support local services and attract and sustain investment in the town.”

The county council said the new system should not affect the amount of money businesses have to pay in rates – it only changes the way they are distributed, introducing much more local control.

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