We're purely acting as collection agent

PUBLISHED: 16:10 21 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 11 May 2010

I REFER to Nick Adams s letter (Paying top whack on empty shops, Postbag, January 31) in which he criticies North Herts District Council based on some factually incorrect assumptions. This council has no ­jurisdiction at all over the amount of rates tha

I REFER to Nick Adams's letter (Paying 'top whack' on empty shops, Postbag, January 31) in which he criticies North Herts District Council based on some factually incorrect assumptions.

This council has no ­jurisdiction at all over the amount of rates that a business pays and the role of each ­council is purely to act as ­collection agent for the ­Government.

Each local authority collects the rates for its area and pays this into a central pool, a small proportion of which is redistributed in the form of a central Government grant in a per capita basis.

The amount of rates payable by any business is based on the rateable value set by HM Revenues and Customs valuation officer multiplied by the poundage or multiplier set by the Government.

The decision to change the rules on empty property rate was not made by the council and is a legislative requirement, giving the council no discretion to amend it.

The Government's intention behind the change is to encourage empty property back into the market rather than have premises left empty for long periods of time.

I am sorry that Mr Adams seeks to blame this council for this change and I hope readers will now appreciate that the council is not responsible for business rates.

Cllr TERRY HONE

Deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance

North Herts District Council

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