Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Finance which presented to the Cabinet the Council Tax Tax Base and provisional Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Tax Base forecast for 2023/24 which would underpin the forthcoming Council Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy scheduled for consideration at Budget Council on 1 March 2023.
The report also sought delegated authority to finalise the 2023/24 Non-Domestic Rates (Business Rates) forecast to reflect up to date Non-Domestic Rates details to be submitted to Central Government via the annual NNDR 1 return by the statutory deadline of 31 January 2023.
The technical report provided information on the Council Tax Tax Base for 2023/24 using the most up to date valuation list and all other information and estimates available.
The total number of chargeable properties included in the Council Tax Tax Base calculation in Oldham for 2023/24 was 95,980. This figure was reduced to 87,000 after allowing for discounts and exemptions and translated to the equivalent of 69,175.3 Band D properties. After applying adjustments for the Local Council Tax Support scheme offset by the additional charging for empty properties and an anticipated increase in the number of properties to be included in the valuation list over the forthcoming year, the number of Band D equivalent properties reduced to 60,465.1. The final Tax Base after the application of the anticipated collection rate of 96.75% was 58,500 which was an increase of 1,050 when compared to the Council Tax Tax Base for 2022/23 of 57,450.
The 2023/24 Tax Bases for Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,952 and 5,615 respectively, had been calculated using the same methodology.
Statute requires local Billing Authorities to prepare and submit to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) a locally determined and approved Business Rates forecast through the NNDR 1 return by 31 January each year. This forecast would be used to determine the 2023/24 “demand” and payment schedule for Business Rates between Oldham Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). Being a participant in the Greater Manchester 100% Rates Retention Pilot Scheme which was confirmed for the financial year 2023/24 in the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement (PLGFS) which was announced on 19 December 2022 means the Council no longer pays a share of Business Rates to Central Government. Instead, Oldham currently retains 99% of the income with 1% being paid to the GMCA for Fire and Rescue services.
The estimated rating income for 2023/24 attributable to Oldham Council using the latest information which includes the Business Rates Revaluation was currently £48.499m which was a decrease of £0.106m compared to 2022/23. Delegation is sought to enable the Business Rates forecast to be updated to take account of up-to-date Non-Domestic Rates information, enabling the submission to Central Government of the annual NNDR 1 return by the statutory deadline of 31 January 2023.
As the 100% Business Rates retention regime was continuing, the Council had assumed a benefit of £4.180m from the pilot scheme for 2023/24. The current arrangement was that the Council could retain 75% of this benefit with the balance attributable to GMCA. The Council’s share, £3.135m would be made available to support the 2023/24 budget whilst the GMCA share would be transferred to a reserve to be paid to the GMCA once the final position had been agreed. The figures will only be confirmed by the end of 2023/24.
It was important to highlight to Members that the preparation of Council Tax and Business Rates Tax Bases was being undertaken in a period of unprecedented uncertainty and volatility. The current economic climate including uncertain prospects for economic growth, Government changes in policy in year, the revaluation of Business Rates from 1 April 2023 and the economic impact of the conflict in Ukraine are amongst the issues which made forecasting challenging.
The Collection Fund had moved into a projected surplus position in 2022/23 providing the opportunity to use the surplus to support the 2023/24. This was the result of the lifting of COVID-19 related restrictions during the year and consequent improved collection rates. It also reflected the level of Government support provided via Business Rate reliefs which has reduced any losses in collection.
The Council had little discretion in the calculation of the number of properties incorporated into the Council Tax Tax Base given the legislative framework that was in place. However, there was some discretion in estimating the number of new properties that would be included on the Council Tax register during 2023/24 and the change to the number of claimants of Council Tax Reduction. A prudent view had been taken in this regard. The main area for an alternative approach was over the level of assumed collection rate. An increase in the collection rate would boost the anticipated Council Tax income and a decrease in the rate would decrease income. The Council had chosen to maintain its 2023/24 collection rate at 96.75%. This decision had been influenced by prevailing economic circumstances and current trends in collection rates.
The NNDR1 return generated the figures upon which the Business Rates Tax Base is prepared. It was not, therefore appropriate to consider an alternative approach. However, as the figures included on the NNDR1 return on 31 January 2023 may vary from the estimated level, delegation was sought to allow the opportunity to revise the Business Rates forecast and approve a revised and more accurate position for budget setting.
RESOLVED – That:
1. The Council Tax Tax Base for 2023/24 at 58,500 Band D equivalent properties be approved.
2. The latest estimate for 2023/24 Business Rates revenue that was attributable to Oldham Council as being £48.499m be approved.
3. The drawing down from the Collection Fund of £4.180m of Business Rates retention gains anticipated for 2023/24, of which the Council would utilise £3.135m (75%) be approved.
4. The Tax Bases for Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,952 and 5,615 respectively be noted.
5. The decision to vary the final Business Rates forecast and hence the Business Rates Tax Base, if required, be delegated to the Director of Finance in consultation with to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon.
Publication date: 25/01/2023
Date of decision: 23/01/2023
Decided at meeting: 23/01/2023 - Cabinet
Effective from: 03/02/2023