BUSINESS rates would be cut across the Tees Valley if local leaders received greater decision-making powers, the region’s mayor has said.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said cutting rates would eventually lead to huge investment and an “explosion” of job opportunities for local people.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has said directly elected mayors should receive more control of England’s main commercial property tax in a move that would give the leaders further authority over local issues.

Mr Houchen called on the government to devolve business rates and is thought to be disappointed by a lack of tax cutting powers in the white paper.

Read more: Government reveals how it believes it is levelling up the North East

But responding to the news of Mr Gove’s ambition, the Tory mayor set out how he would implement the change.

He said: “If I had control of business rates, I’d slash them across the board, with a special focus on capital and energy intensive businesses which are a huge strategic priority for Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool.

“Overnight this would stimulate massive private sector investment in strategic industries that are critical for UK PLC. This in turn would lead to an explosion of job creation, put more money in people’s pockets, and restore local pride.

“Different areas could take different approaches – for example, London could focus on its world-class financial services sector. The result would be a spectacular renaissance and an economic boom in the UK not seen for generations.”

Business owners and shoppers across the North East who The Northern Echo spoke to expressed a unanimous desire for business rates and high rents to be slashed to help rebuild ailing high streets.

Read more: Billingham locals say town is suffering due to lack of funding

In its white paper, the government said it is providing £1.7bn of temporary business rates relief in 2022-23 for up to 400,000 retail, hospitality, and leisure properties to support the high street until the next revaluation.

Mr Gove said boosting business activity in poorer areas towards the national average would dramatically improve the UK’s economy by “tens of billions of pounds each year”.

The measures were also about “repairing the social fabric of our broken heartlands”, with 20 new urban regeneration projects.

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