Consideration was given to a report of the Director of Finance which provided the Cabinet with the Council Tax Tax Base and provisional Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) Tax Base forecast for 2022/23 which would underpin the forthcoming Council Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy scheduled for consideration at Budget Council on 2nd March 2022.
The report also sought delegated authority to finalise the 2022/23 Non-Domestic Rates (Business Rates) forecast in order 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 2022.
The report set out information on the Council Tax Tax Base for 2022/23 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 2022/23 was 95,640. This figure was reduced to 86,700.8 after allowing for discounts and exemptions and translates to the equivalent of 68,910.7 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 59,379.8. The final Tax Base after the application of the anticipated collection rate of 96.75% was 57,450 which was an increase of 250 when compared to the Council Tax Tax Base for 2021/22 of 57,200.
The 2022/23 Tax Bases for Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,833 and 5,548 respectively, were been calculated using the same methodology.
Statute required 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 2022/23 “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 which was confirmed for the financial year 2022/23 in the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement announced on 16 December 2021 meant the Council no longer paid 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 2022/23 attributable to Oldham Council was currently £48.605m which was a decrease of £2.014m compared to 2021/22. This was due to Business Rates reliefs being announced thus reducing the sum billed with the Council receiving compensating grant instead.
Delegation was 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 2022.
As the 100% Business Rates retention regime was continuing, the Council had assumed a benefit of approximately £2.720m from the pilot scheme for 2022/23. The Council could retain 50% of this benefit with the balance attributable to the GMCA. The Council’s share, £1.360m would be made available to support the 2022/23 budget whilst the GMCA share would be transferred to a reserve to be paid to the GMCA once the final position had been agreed. These figures would only be confirmed at the end of 2022/23.
The preparation of Council Tax and Business Rates taxbases was being undertaken during a period of unprecedented uncertainty and volatility.
The COVID-19 pandemic and recent Government announcements relating to extended retail relief had continued to reduce both the Council Tax and Business Rates income collected in 2021/22 to the extent that an income deficit of £7.741m was projected for the Council at the end of 2021/22 (this is initially accounted for in the Collection Fund). However as Central Government is providing grants in lieu of business rates, specifically for the provision of Extended Retail Relief, current estimates are that there will be grant received of £9.045m which removes the deficit and allows the use of £1.304m of additional resources to support the 2022/23 budget.
The Council has little discretion in the calculation of the number of properties incorporated into the Council Tax Tax Base given the legislative framework that is in place. However, there is some discretion in estimating the number of new properties that will be included on the Council Tax register during 2022/23 and the change to the number of claimants of Council Tax Reduction. A prudent view has been taken in this regard. The main area for an alternative approach is 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 maintain its 2021/22 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 was prepared. It is not therefore appropriate to consider an alternative approach. However, as the figures included on the NNDR1 return on 31 January 2022 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 2022/23 at 57,450 Band D equivalent properties be approved.
2. The latest estimate for 2022/23 Business Rates revenue that was attributable to Oldham Council as being £48.605m be approved
3. The drawing down from the Collection Fund of £2.720m of Business Rates retention gains anticipated for 2022/23, of which the Council would utilise £1.360m (50%) be approved.
4. The Tax Bases fr Saddleworth and Shaw and Crompton Parish Councils of 8,833 and 5,548 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 Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon.