ONE OFF projects could be paid for in Tunbridge Wells by a fund that retains 100 per cent of income from local business rates.

The Cabinet of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) backed a proposed retention scheme in passing their 2018/19 Budget on Thursday [November 7].

Anxious TWBC is bidding alongside all authorities in Kent for the county to be one of around five chosen by central Government to benefit from retaining £25million in business rates currently returned to HM Treasury.

Financial documents show TWBC face a funding gap of £149,000 in their draft budget, meaning there is a significant shortfall in capital needed to fund future operations.

The council has denied that securing the localisation of business rates could be seen to ease financial pressures as it is a “one of receipt”.

Lee Colyer, the council’s Director of Finance, said he was “anxiously waiting” the Government’s decision. In the meeting, he said: “This council has played a leading role nationally in asking for more funds from local businesses to be retained locally.

“The Government has listened to that call and launched a pilot asking for some areas to come forward and present how this could work in practice.

“All local authorities within Kent reached an agreement to submit a bid. If it is successful that will result in £25million in growth proceeds being retained.

“The benefit to this council is to retain an extra £600,000 of business rate growth and the creation of a West Kent Infrastructure Fund of £1.05million.

“It is a very strong bid but it is a very competitive process. The government can only support around five and we are anxiously waiting the decision of the secretary of state.”

A decision about which county the Government chooses is expected in the coming days. TWBC was unable to state how any extra capital might be allocated.