A COMBINED bid by councils across the region to retain most of their business rates growth to invest locally has been approved by the Government.

Under a pilot scheme, which will see the creation of a new North and West Yorkshire Business Rates Pool, three-quarters of the growth in income will be retained in a combined fund.

Existing pool partners – including Bradford – will be joined in the new set-up by seven more authorities, among them Craven and North Yorkshire County Council.

Over the next financial year, the expanded pool is expected to generate £19 million of funding.

A third will be kept by the pool, and the remainder will go to member authorities.

The existing Leeds City Region business rates pool – launched five years ago – has been involved in a trial to retain 100 per cent of growth, but in 2019-20 the percentage allowed to be kept by pilots drops to 75 per cent.

Funding has supported a range of projects to boost economic growth, from major events to helping business start-ups.

The new, expanded pool area – covering eight per cent of the country – has a population of 3.1 million and an annual economic output of £70.3 billion, with 1.4 million jobs and 137,000 businesses.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council and chairman of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, welcomed the pool expansion.

She added: "At a time when local enterprise partnerships across West and North Yorkshire are proposing a merger to cover this combined area of 3.1 million people, it’s great that the next wave of our business rates pool will also encompass the expanded geography.

"I’m pleased that this money – which has been generated locally, partly through our collaborative efforts to encourage businesses to grow and locate in the region – will be retained and reinvested for the benefit of local people."

Councillor Judith Blake – leader of Leeds City Council, the lead authority for managing the business rates retention pool – said she was disappointed the retention percentage was falling.

But she added: "We're pleased our bid has been approved and we are determined to ensure the money is put to good use, driving economic growth for the benefit of the people of North and West Yorkshire.

"We have already proven that when we combine our skills and resources, the results can be spectacular, as shown with the amazing Tour de France Grand Depart. And the approval of our bid will enable us to work even more closely together to support the whole region to grow and offer opportunities for the benefit of all.

"The Leeds City Region pool was one of the most successful in the country and this wider pool, with our new partners, will enable us to do even more."

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Councillor Carl Les, said the pool was a "really significant example of collaborative working".

"Together we have developed an approach that will both promote economic growth and support many services that the public values most," he said.