Assets of Community Value (ACVs) greatly benefit their community, but the high level of Business Rates can often be crippling for them. That’s why I believe, as I’ve written before, that Camden should support ACVs with reduced Business Rates.

Lots of ACVs already receive Business Rates relief. However, a lot don’t, including many pubs in Hampstead and Pentameters Theatre, and other locations across the borough. And given Camden bears just 30% of the cost of reducing Business Rates – while local businesses retain 100% of the benefit – it’s a cost-effective way to back the local community.

As a result, I will be proposing the below motion at Camden Council on 30th January, which I hope councillors from all parties can support:

This Council:

– Celebrates the rich and diverse fabric of Camden and the broad range of vibrant community groups and local businesses that make our borough what it is, and welcomes Asset of Community Value status as a means of preserving facilities that bond our community together;

– raises a toast to pubs in particular – from the Sir Richard Steele of Belsize to the Lord Stanley of Kentish Town and from the Black Lion of West Hampstead to the Golden Lion of St Pancras – as invaluable pillars of our local communities;

– notes the motion agreed unanimously by this Council on 22nd June 2015 supporting the campaign for Camden’s pubs to be granted Asset of Community Value (ACV) status, and notes that 20 have been granted ACV status so far;

– recognises that while ACV status prevents the erosion of our communities and ensures that vital amenities, such as pubs, are kept in use, some are concerned by the impact of ACV status on the value of ACVs’ freeholds and leaseholds, which may dissuade property-owners from welcoming ACV status;

– notes that business rates are a major cost for all businesses, but especially pubs, and that they impose a large cost on community amenities, which threatens their survival even where ACV status has been conferred;

– notes that s69 of the Localism Act 2011 grants local authorities the discretion to approve local schemes that grant business rates relief to businesses

– notes that Camden granted one of the lowest levels of discretionary business rates relief in the country this year, at just £200,504: half the level of Brent or Westminster, a third of the level of Haringey, and a fifth of the level of Barnet or Islington

– notes that while 30% of the cost of granting discretionary business rates relief would be borne by Camden, 100% of the benefit goes to businesses in the borough, making it a cost-effective way for Camden to support local amenities and fair to local Council Tax-payers and

– notes that most ACVs already receive relief, due to their charitable status or otherwise, and that the benefits of supporting a small number of remaining, commercially-operated ACVs – and encouraging social activities that earn premises ACV status – would exceed the low cost of granting a proportionate relief to them.

Therefore, this Council recommends to Cabinet that consideration be given to introducing a scheme that grants 25% discretionary business rates relief to Assets of Community Value that are subject to business rates and that do not already receive relief.

For more about my campaign to support local businesses, click here.