The Cabinet gave consideration to a report of the Director of Finance which set out information on the Council Tax Tax Base for 2021/22 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 2021/22 was 95,213. This figure was reduced to 86,254.25 after allowing for discounts and exemptions and translated to the equivalent of 68,469.9 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 59,121.6. The final Tax Base after the application of the anticipated collection rate of 96.75% is 57,200 which was a decrease of 463 when compared to the Council Tax Tax Base for 2020/21 of 57,663.
The 2021/22 Tax Bases for Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,699 and 5,479 respectively, had been calculated using the same methodology.
Statute required local billing authorities to prepare and submit to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) 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 2021/22 “demand” and payment schedule for Business Rates between Oldham Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Being a participant in the Greater Manchester 100% Rates Retention Pilot Scheme (now extended by at least a further year until 31 March 2022) meant the Council no longer payed a share of Business Rates to Central Government. Instead, Oldham currently retained 99% of the income with 1% being paid to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority for Fire and Rescue services.
The estimated rating income for 2021/22 attributable to Oldham Council was currently £49.640m which was a reduction of £0.784m compared to 2020/21. Delegation was sought to enable the Business Rates forecast to be updated to take account of the 2021/22 PLGFS and 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 2021.
Oldham had pooled Business Rates revenues with other Greater Manchester districts and the two Cheshire Unitary Authorities since 2015/16 (Cheshire West & Chester joined the pool from 2016/17). The aim of pooling was to retain the benefits of any Business Rates growth within Greater Manchester for the benefit of the region.
This report sought approval to continue these arrangements into 2021/22 (subject to the notification of the 2021/22 PLGFS).
It was highlighted to Members that the preparation of Council Tax and Business Rates taxbases was being undertaken in a period of unprecedented uncertainty and volatility. The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the Council Tax and Business Rates income collected in 2020/21 to the extent that an income deficit is projected at the end of 2020/21 (this is initially accounted for in the Collection Fund).
In 2020/21, the Government significantly extended business rates reliefs to businesses and introduced a Council Tax Hardship grant. Both these initiatives were currently anticipated to conclude at the end of the year, but although these there had been a positive impact on the Collection Fund in year, a deficit still prevailed.
The Government had provided a means for the impact of this deficit to addressed over 3 financial years and had advised of other support for in relation to reduced Council Tax and Business Rates income. This support was to be announced in the Spending Review which was due later this month.
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 will be included on the Council Tax register during 2021/22 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 has chosen to reduce its 2021/22 collection rate to 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 2021 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.
1. The Council Tax Tax Base for 2021/22 at 57,200 Band D equivalent properties be approved.
2. The latest estimate for 2021/22 Business Rates revenue that is attributable to Oldham Council as being £49.640m be agreed.
3. The Tax Bases for Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,699 and 5,479 respectively be noted.
4. The decision to vary the final Business Rates forecast and hence the Business Rates Tax Base, if required, be delegated to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Green in consultation with the Director of Finance.
5. The final decision of the Council’s membership of the proposed Greater Manchester, Cheshire East & Cheshire West and Chester Councils Business Rates Pool for 2021/22 be delegated to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Green in consultation with the Director of Finance, (subject to the information contained in the 2021/22 Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement).