Month: March 2018

The Waverley Business Update

The latest business update from Waverley Borough Council is now available to read here.

In this edition:

-Brightwells Farnham regeneration starts

-We want to hear from you

-Working together to improve Waverley

-English tourism week

-New Waverley business spotlight

-Courses and events coming soon

-Work smart in 2018

-What next?

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Notice of Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce will be held at 7pm on Tuesday 17th April 2018 at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club, Barhatch Lane, Cranleigh, GU6 7NG.

2018 Chamber AGM Agenda Tuesday 17 April (002)

2018 Cranleigh Chamber AGM 2017 Minutes (002)

Any other business and nominations for officers should be notified to no later than midday on 13th April 2018, using the following form:

2018 Chamber Officer and Committee Nomination Form 2018 (002)

Apologies for absence: Please notify the Secretary by email to

The AGM will be followed at 7.30pm by our annual dinner to which partners and non-members are welcome.

The two course dinner will cost £20 per person, or £35 for two tickets, or £100 for a table of six.

Our headline speaker for dinner is the extraordinary London Marathon ever-present Chris Finill.

To have run every London Marathon since 1981 is an achievement worthy of praise, but to have accomplished that feat under three hours on every occasion (bar one) marks Chris Finill out as a special runner indeed.

Growing up living on the same road in Harrow where Sir Roger Bannister spent his early years, and then attending the same primary school, Finill’s running prowess was perhaps inevitable from a young age.

A British champion at 100km and for running 24 hours, he represented England at the Commonwealth Games Ultradistance Championships in Keswick, Cumbria, in 2009.

Chris also ran across the United States from New York to California in the autumn of 2011, in a mind-boggling 79 days and 22 hours.

He joins us to share some stories from the London Marathon, ultra running adventures and his profession, where he is the Bursar at Duke of Kent School.

Tickets are available to book at

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GDPR briefing with Peter Stevens from TWM Solicitors

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce hosted a packed breakfast meeting this morning, featuring an invaluable briefing about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from leading expert Peter Stevens, partner at TWM Solicitors.

Peter explained this is a regulation, not a European directive, which shares similar principles to existing data protection laws. However, data protection law has fallen behind technological advances, with the GDPR making it fit for purpose in the modern age.

Chamber members attending the breakfast left with lots of action points, including carrying out a data protection audit, writing a data protection policy and updating privacy notices.

You can find a copy of Peter’s slides at:

GDPR from Peter Stevens at TWM (002)

Peter welcomes any questions from Chamber members. His email is and his direct dial is 01483 752750.

Our next Chamber event is the big one – our annual dinner at Cranleigh Golf & Country Club on Tuesday 17th April 2018.

You can find out more and book your tickets at

We will be circulating some notes ahead of the AGM, which takes place before the annual dinner starts and is open to all members, shortly.

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Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce comment on 100% business rates retention

Local councils will be starved of their principal government grant from 2020. Already these block grants are decreasing year by year ready for ‘zero grant’ day, with a 37% reduction between 2010 and 2015.

Less grant means less council spending on all the services we have become accustomed to.

However, there is good news. The government used to take 100% of all the business rate income from each council. This changed to 50% in 2013 and by 2020, 100% of business rate income will go to councils.

Under the existing system, as a rule, the less deprived an area, the less government grant it is likely to receive. That is because richer areas can raise more funding via council tax and business rates.

This is not an exact link, but it is a useful rule of thumb.

For many decades, all governments used the grant to ensure as far as possible that local councils could provide an equal level of service across the whole country.

However, since 2010, on average, deprived areas have seen their grants cut more than less deprived areas.

If this is the plan, what does this mean for our Surrey councils? Well it is a bit of a mixed bag.

The Surrey district and borough councils have a larger number of businesses and, thus, business rates to collect than the northern councils. On the other hand, there are far more people, and indeed proportionately far more aged in the south who need council services.

So simply put, Surrey councils have a greater demand on whatever income comes in.

Also, Surrey councils are one of the few areas in the UK, London being another, that pays more into the Exchequer than gets out. Government uses this surplus to balance the budget elsewhere in England which is something our Surrey county councillors feel very sore about!

It gets further complicated.

Where there are two tier systems of local government (that means both districts and boroughs and a county council, unlike a Unitary authority like Berkshire which has no districts and boroughs) it is likely that the County Council will suffer more with the loss of government block grants because they do not collect business rates.

And yet they must deliver some of the most expensive services such as Education, Roads and Social Care.

The decision to remove the block grant will possibly be one of the most revolutionary since the 1973 reorganisation of council geographies. We have yet to see what the results will be.

What we can be sure of, is that there will be much, much less funding to go around.

We may well even see more Unitary Authorities springing up although this is hugely unpalatable to so many district and borough councillors who would be turkeys voting for Xmas. This is a route that Scotland has taken.

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Local businesses are being invited to consider a Business Improvement District

Local businesses that are interested in improving their business area are invited join other local businesses and the Chambers of Commerce across Waverley to discuss the possibility of a Business Improvement District (BID).

A BID is a business led initiative supported by government legislation that gives local businesses the power to raise and spend funds locally with the aim of improving their own business environment.

It is an investment scheme where local businesses agree how their money should be invested to benefit themselves, their employees, customers, clients and their area. There are already over 290 BIDs successfully operating across the country.

A spokesman for the Waverley Joint Chambers of Commerce, representing Cranleigh, Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere, said:

We have watched the success of the many BIDs in the UK which have improved their business environments, our closest being in Guildford which has just entered its second five year term.

It is early days and this process could take 18 months to two years but we feel that there are opportunities for our High Streets and business communities to benefit from a BID which addresses local needs on a town by town basis.

We would very much like to hear from large and small businesses who would like to be part of the early discussions and feasibility study. Businesses do not need to be members of the chambers to take part.

Councillor Jim Edwards, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Community Development at Waverley Borough Council, said:

A BID is a fantastic opportunity that could really help the local economy. If successful, a BID has the potential to transform our town and village centres, change the game for local businesses and bring significant benefits to Waverley.

We have committed to fund a feasibility study to review potential BID areas, find out the level of interest, assess the viability of a BID and consider various options that could be adopted.

Local businesses can take this opportunity to make their voices heard, be part of the development of the BID proposal and help shape the future of Waverley’s business sector.

Interested Waverley businesses should contact their local Chambers of Commerce or

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100% business rates retention may lead to divergences in English councils’ funding without promoting growth

The government plans to increase the share of business rates English councils retain from 50% to 75% in 2020, and is piloting 100% retention in parts of the country. This is a major change to local government funding. The aim is to increase the incentives councils have to grow these revenues and their local economies.

But a new report published by the IFS and funded by its Local Government Finance and Devolution Consortium shows that it also risks growing divergences between the funding available to different councils.

The report shows that significant divergences could arise in just a few years under 100% rates retention. This is because those councils which would have seen the biggest increases in their retained business rates revenues were often not the councils that experienced the biggest increases in their relative spending needs, for example, because their population became older, poorer or sicker.

This implies that central and local government face a difficult trade off when moving to 75% or 100% rates retention.

More frequent and fuller periodic redistributions of revenues could limit the scale of funding divergences. But they would also dampen the incentives for councils to grow revenues and tackle spending needs.

It is also not clear that the incentives provided by rates retention will translate into faster economic growth. The report finds no relationship between changes in the councils’ business rates tax bases and local economic growth, or indeed employment or earnings growth, in recent years.

However, there is a link between changes in the value of business properties when they are re-valued (as in April 2017) and local economic growth. Most of the impact of these valuation changes is stripped out from the revenues actually retained by councils though, meaning little incentive for councils to boost local business property values.

The revenues and spending needs data also show that:

  • Between 2006–07 and 2013–14, the assessed spending needs of different councils converged. In other words council areas became more alike in terms of how much money they were thought to need to provide similar levels of service. Deprivation became less concentrated in areas that were initially the poorest. At the same time the population aged more rapidly in those, generally richer, areas initially assessed to have lower needs. This latter trend is likely to have continued since then and to persist in the future.
  • Changes in councils’ capacity to raise revenues from council tax and business rates varied significantly across England. After stripping out the overnight impact of the business rates revaluation on revenues – as happens under the business rates retention scheme – around one-in-ten council areas saw their tax raising capacity increase by 13% or less. Another one-in-ten saw it increase by 30% or more.

The report also shows how in shire areas where local government is split into two tiers – shire districts and counties – the way changes in business rates revenues are shared between these tiers can have a big impact on the scale of funding divergences:

  • Shire district councils cover relatively small areas and their other revenues are relatively low. This means that divergences between their funding levels and assessed spending needs can grow very large when they bear a large part of the change in local business rates revenues. This is the case currently where they bear four-fifths of the 50% of revenue change retained locally.
  • If this four-fifths allocation were maintained under a 100% retention scheme then divergences could grow very rapidly. Had such a scheme been in place between 2006-07 and 2013-14, then by the end of this period the quarter of districts doing worst would have had funding that was at least 13% lower relative to their spending needs than the quarter doing best.
  • A natural response would be to increase the proportion of business rates changes borne by county councils which are bigger and could bear more change without so much divergence. This would also provide counties with stronger incentives to boost these revenues for example through education and skills, transport and strategic planning for which they are responsible. Districts, however, control most local planning decisions and their incentives would be weaker.
  • If, as has historically been the case, business rates revenues grow in real-terms, allocating a higher share of this growth to counties would provide more resources for services counties have responsibility for, including social care and children’s services. However it would not, on its own, solve funding issues for these areas of spending.

“The lack of relationship between changes in business rates and economic and employment growth is important. Areas seeing lots of new developments aren’t guaranteed strong economic growth. And growth doesn’t necessarily rely on large-scale property development“, said David Phillips, Associate Director at the IFS.

“This does not mean the incentives for councils to encourage property development that are provided by business rates retention aren’t useful. But it does suggest that if the government wants to encourage councils to take a more active role in promoting growth, other incentives could play a useful role as well. This could include allowing councils to retain part of other taxes such as income tax.”

“The high share of changes in local rates revenues currently borne by shire district councils in two-tier areas can lead to big divergences in the funding of these districts. And it means that counties with their low shares lose out on real-terms growth in rates revenues”, said Neil Amin-Smith, Research Economist at the IFS.

“As we move to 75% and possibly 100% business rates retention, it is worth considering whether counties should bear a larger share of the changes in revenues. Doing this could help limit the scale of funding divergences among districts and stop counties – who fund social care services – from getting ‘left behind’. But it would also shift more of the incentive to boost business rates revenues and some more financial risk on to counties as well: a risk that could come back to bite if business rates revenues fall rather than grow in real terms in future.”

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