MD2069 Crossrail Business Rates Supplement – 2017-18

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD2069
Date signed: 
02 February 2017
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

This proposal asks the Mayor to approve the policies for the Crossrail Business Rate Supplement (BRS) for 2017-18 including the multiplier (or tax rate) and the rateable value threshold above which it will apply having regard to the contents of the final prospectus for the BRS published in January 2010. The policies have been reviewed to take into account the impact of the 2017 business rates revaluation.

The Crossrail BRS is collected by the 32 London boroughs and the Corporation of London on behalf of the GLA. The Mayor is also asked to authorise the Executive Director, Resources to issue a notification to each London billing authority under section 18 of the Business Rate Supplements Act 2009 (‘the BRS Act’) setting out the final policies for the Crossrail BRS in 2017-18 and the supporting explanatory text for ratepayers. This will enable billing authorities to make the necessary arrangements for the inclusion of the Crossrail BRS on 2017-18 non domestic rates bills which are due to be issued in March 2017. 

 

Decision

The Mayor approves the following policies for the Crossrail BRS for the 2017-18 financial year:
•    The Crossrail BRS will apply for the full 2017-18 financial year across the entire GLA area;
•    The Crossrail BRS multiplier (or tax rate) shall be set at 2p per pound of rateable value
•    the rateable value threshold above which the Crossrail BRS shall apply be increased from £55,000 to £70,000. This is in line with the requirement set out in the final Crossrail BRS prospectus that the threshold should rise at each revaluation in line with the average percentage change in rateable values;  
•    Any reliefs for the Crossrail BRS will continue to apply on the same basis at the same percentage rate as for National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR) having regard to the local policies in place in the 33 London billing authorities and those set by central government. Section 45 ratepayers (that is, those owning or entitled to occupy empty properties) will not be exempt from the Crossrail BRS as a class. The same automatic empty property reliefs will apply, however, at the same percentage rate to the Crossrail BRS as for NNDR. The GLA will not exercise its powers under section 16 of the BRS Act to apply an offset for eligible ratepayers liable to pay a levy towards a Business Improvement District.

The Mayor authorises the Executive Director, Resources to issue a notification of the above policies to the 33 London billing authorities as required by section 18 of the BRS Act and the explanatory note for non domestic ratepayers for 2017-18 as set out in Appendix A. The Crossrail BRS is projected to raise £275.8 million in 2017-18 from ratepayers but after provisions for losses due to successful rating appeals this falls to £254.8 million. The GLA will apply an estimated £115 million of BRS income in 2017-18 on interest payments and is scheduled to repay £80 million of its £3.3 billion of Crossrail related debt.
 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The GLA and Transport for London (TfL) agreed with the Government in November 2007 to provide a total of £7.7 billion of funding towards the then planned £15.9 billion cost of the Crossrail project. As a result of the revised Crossrail funding package agreed as part of TfL’s settlement in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review the total project costs were reduced by approximately £1billion to £14.5 billion and it was agreed that the project would be delivered on its agreed route albeit with a projected one year delay in its scheduled completion date. 

1.2    Of the GLA and TfL contribution, £4.1 billion (around 25%) has been financed by a business rate supplement on non domestic ratepayers in London (“the Crossrail BRS”). This contribution has comprised two elements: around £3.3 billion of borrowing by the GLA (the interest on and repayment of which is being financed by the revenues from the BRS) and an estimated additional £0.8 billion direct contribution to the project. The remainder of the £7.7 billion GLA Group contribution includes around £0.6 billion to be financed through section 106 and community infrastructure income with the majority of the remainder being borrowing undertaken by TfL financed by future fare revenues. 

1.3    By 31 March 2016 the entire £4.1 billion BRS financed contribution had been transferred by the GLA to Transport for London. The entire sum raised via the BRS is therefore now used to fund the financing and repayment of the GLA’s related £3.3 billion debt.

1.4    This Decision asks the Mayor to approve the Crossrail BRS policies for 2017-18.
 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The GLA now estimates that in order to finance the GLA’s agreed contributions to Crossrail and the repayment of its borrowing for Crossrail it will need to generate between £5.5 billion to £6.0 billion in revenues via the BRS (i.e. £3.3 billion to repay the GLA’s associated borrowing, up to £1.9 billion in interest and financing costs on this borrowing and £0.8 billion for the direct contribution made towards the project construction costs between 2010 and 2016). It is estimated that by 31 March 2017 around £1.6 billion of BRS revenues will have been collected since it was introduced in 2010-11. The BRS is expected to end for Crossrail 1 during the 2030s with a current estimated end date of 2033-34 – although this could be earlier or later depending on the change in the taxbase at future revaluations including the next one which is currently expected in April 2022.

2.2    The power for the GLA to levy the Crossrail BRS was granted under the Business Rate Supplements Act 2009 (“the BRS Act”).  Under the BRS Act and associated regulations, the GLA may only levy the Crossrail BRS on hereditaments on the 33 local rating lists in London where the rateable value exceeds £50,000 – although a higher qualifying threshold can be set -  and charge a multiplier (or tax rate) of no more than 2p. 

2.3    This report asks the Mayor to approve the proposed policies for the Crossrail BRS for 2017-18 having regard to the final prospectus issued in January 2010:  ‘Intention to levy a business rate supplement to finance the Greater London Authority’s contribution to the Crossrail Project – Final Prospectus’ (“the Final Prospectus”).
  

2.4    The policies may be varied annually having regard to section 10 of the BRS Act and the variations policies set out in section 9 of the final prospectus. The policies proposed to apply in 2017-18 are consistent with those set out in the final prospectus and those in place for 2010-11 to 2016-17 with the exception of a proposed increase in the rateable value threshold from £55,000 to £70,000 which is required in a revaluation year under the prospectus policies. The reasons for this decision are set out in section 4.

2.5    The Decision asks the Mayor to agree the following policies for the Crossrail BRS in 2017-18:

•    The Crossrail BRS will apply for the full 2017-18 financial year across the entire GLA area;
•    The Crossrail BRS multiplier (or tax rate) shall be set at 2p per pound of rateable value for the 2017-18 financial year;
•    The rateable value threshold above which the Crossrail BRS shall apply in the 2017-18 financial year will be set at £70,000 (raised from £55,000). This represents a relief granted by the GLA under section 15 of the BRS Act as the proposed threshold exceeds the minimum £50,000 rateable value threshold specified in the Business Rate Supplements (Rateable Value Condition) (England) Regulations 2009;
•    Any reliefs for the Crossrail BRS will apply on the same basis and at the same percentage rate as for National Non Domestic Rates (NNDR) having regard to any national policies set by the Secretary of State and any discretionary local policies in place in the 33 London billing authorities;
•    Section 45 ratepayers (that is, those owning or entitled to occupy empty properties) will not be exempt from the Crossrail BRS as a class. However the same empty property reliefs and exemptions for certain categories of ratepayer or property (e.g. the majority of listed buildings, empty properties occupied by registered charities and newly empty properties for between 3- 6 months) will apply at the same percentage rate to the Crossrail BRS as for NNDR. 
•    The GLA will not exercise its powers under section 16 of the BRS Act to apply an offset for eligible ratepayers liable to pay a levy towards a Business Improvement District (BID). 

2.6    The Mayor is also asked to agree that the Executive Director, Resources be authorised to issue a formal notification of the above policies to the 33 London billing authorities as required by section 18 of the BRS Act (Appendix A). The Mayor is also asked to agree the proposed communication to non domestic ratepayers for 2017-18 as set out in Annex F to that notification. This will either be circulated to ratepayers alongside their 2017-18 rates bills or alternatively made available on billing authority websites depending on the mechanism by which the authority has decided to communicate explanatory supporting information using their discretion under the Non Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989 (as amended by the Non Domestic Rating (Electronic Communications) (England) Order 2012).

2.7    The GLA expects to apply £115 million of the BRS revenues to fund interest due on its £3.3 billion of Crossrail debt and £80 million to repay part of that debt. The balance of the BRS income collected will be applied to finance the repayment of debt in future years.
 

Equality comments

3.1    Public authorities such as the GLA must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to the need to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. This involves having due regard to the need to removing or minimising any disadvantage suffered by those who share a relevant protected characteristic that is connected to that characteristic, taking steps to meet the different needs of such people; and encouraging them to participate in public life or in any other activity where their participation is disproportionately low. 

3.2    The “protected” characteristics and groups are: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation and marriage/ civil partnership status.  Compliance with the Equality Act may involve treating people with a protected characteristic more favourably than those without the characteristic.  The duty must be exercised with an open mind and at the time a decision is taken in the exercise of the GLA’s functions. Conscientious regard must be had that is appropriate in all of the circumstances.  

3.3    The Crossrail BRS is applied on a consistent basis across the Greater London Authority area and is subject to the provisions of the BRS Act and parallel national non domestic rating legislation. In 2017-18 the BRS will only be levied on large assessments on the local non domestic rating list with a rateable value above £70,000. As a result 85 per cent of non domestic hereditaments – including the vast majority of premises occupied by small and medium sized enterprises – in London were exempt in 2016-17 and will continue to be so in 2017-18 although the numbers liable by billing authority area have changed significantly in some cases. It is considered that the proposed BRS policies are consistent with the GLA’s statutory duties and non domestic rating legislation. Given that the BRS is restricted to larger business premises only, is applied consistently across the GLA area, amounts to an average of only 5 per cent of affected ratepayers total business rates bill and is collected and enforced through existing non domestic rating legislation no specific and additional adverse equalities impacts are considered to arise from it.
 

Other considerations

Links to Mayoral Strategies

4.1    The importance of the Crossrail project to the capital was highlighted in the Mayor’s transport vision for London ‘Way to Go’ published in November 2008 and the Mayor’s Transport Strategy published in May 2010. Crossrail will bring huge economic benefits to the whole of London and the UK in the long term. It will provide additional transport capacity to enable the concentration of highly productive economic activity in central London to continue to grow and add 10 per cent to London’s rail capacity. Research estimates have forecast that Crossrail will add at least £20 billion with some estimates as high as £36 billion to UK GDP over 60 years through faster journey times, job growth and increased productivity. London’s growth aids the national economy, not least through the taxes generated for the Exchequer. 

4.2    The Crossrail BRS, either directly or to support the financing and repayment of GLA borrowing, has funded £4.1 billion of the costs of the Crossrail project. Without the funding provided through the BRS it would not be possible to deliver the entire Crossrail project on its agreed route.

Impact Assessments and Consultation

4.3    Under the BRS Act the GLA may only levy the Crossrail BRS if:

(a) it has published a document that sets out the proposal for the imposition of the BRS (”the Initial Prospectus”);
 
(b)  it has consulted the relevant persons on the proposal;
 
(c)  where there is to be a ballot on the imposition of the BRS, the ballot has been held and the imposition of the BRS approved; and
   
(d) it has published a document that sets out the arrangements for the imposition of the BRS (“the Final Prospectus”).

4.4    The Initial Prospectus for the Crossrail BRS was published in July 2009. A summary of the Initial Prospectus was also sent to named ratepayers of all 62,000 business premises with a rateable value of £30,000 or higher on the London rating list at that time on the basis that properties below the £50,000 statutory minimum could have become liable for the BRS following the 2010 rating revaluation or at some time in the future.  

4.5    The Final Prospectus for the Crossrail BRS -‘Intention to levy a business rate supplement to finance the Greater London Authority’s contribution to the Crossrail Project’ – was published in January 2010. In developing its policies for the Final Prospectus the GLA had regard to the following factors:

•    the responses submitted to the Initial Prospectus; 
•    the agreed contributions to be made by the GLA to the Crossrail project and its financing costs associated with those contributions;
•    the publication of the draft 2010 draft valuation list of non domestic properties in London and the resulting changes to the projected income from the Crossrail BRS over the period of the next revaluation; and
•    the BRS Act (and any regulations laid or expected to be laid in relation to it) and relevant existing business rates legislation and regulations.

4.6    One material change to the proposals in the Initial Prospectus which was included in the Final prospectus for the Crossrail BRS was to raise the rateable value threshold for the Crossrail BRS from the statutory minimum specified in the Business Rate Supplements (Rateable Value Condition) (England) Regulations 2009 of £50,000 to £55,000 using the reliefs powers granted to the GLA under section 15 of the BRS Act. The effect of this change was to exempt around 4,000 properties on the 2010 rating list from the Crossrail BRS thus targeting relief mainly at small and medium sized businesses as well as smaller not for profit assessments such as nurseries and primary schools.  This meant only hereditaments with a rateable value of £55,001 or more would be liable for the Crossrail BRS. The Final Prospectus made clear that it was the GLA’s intention to retain the same policies until the next revaluation of non domestic rating assessments. 

4.7    The GLA did not hold a ballot prior to the introduction of the Crossrail BRS.  This decision was taken having regard to section 27(6) of the BRS Act which provided an exemption from the ballot requirements for a BRS introduced prior to 1 April 2011. Section 68 of the Localism Act 2011, which amended the BRS Act to make ratepayer ballots mandatory before a BRS could be introduced, does not apply to the Crossrail BRS as it has no retrospective effect provided that any changes the GLA makes to the BRS policies are made in compliance with variations policies set out in section 9 to final prospectus. If variations are made which are not in compliance with these policies ratepayers are required to approve these changes before they can be implemented. A revised prospectus would also need to be published – this being the proposal ratepayers would reject or approve in the ballot.

4.8    The Final Prospectus made clear that the reliefs policies for the Crossrail BRS would apply on the same basis as for National Non Domestic Rates (“NNDR”) as required under the BRS Act. This also applies on a pro rata basis to any discretionary relief powers introduced under section 69 of the Localism Act. The Localism Act amended section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to permit billing authorities to grant discretionary relief to any ratepayer subject to state aid rules including those reliefs, if applicable, which the Government has committed to fund the costs of in 2017-18 in respect of retained business rates. 

4.9    The final prospectus also confirmed that section 45 ratepayers (i.e. those occupying or entitled to occupy empty properties) would be liable for the BRS except where they were eligible for empty property relief under NNDR (e.g. newly empty properties, certain listed buildings and those where the ratepayer is a registered charity). The Final Prospectus stated that the GLA would not exercise its powers under section 16 of the BRS Act to apply an offset for eligible ratepayers liable to pay a levy towards a Business Improvement District (BID). 

    Varying the Crossrail BRS in a Revaluation Year

4.10    The final Crossrail BRS prospectus published in 2010 set out the policies for revising the BRS at each revaluation and 2017 is the first revaluation which has occurred since the supplement was introduced. 

4.11    The prospectus wording commits the Mayor to uprate the £55,000 qualifying rateable value threshold ‘in line with’ or ‘having regard to’ the average percentage change in rateable values in a revaluation year.  The estimated average increase in rateable values for all properties with a rateable value above £55,000 – those potentially liable to the BRS - has been estimated by the GLA to be 27 per cent based on the draft rating list published on 30 September 2016 compared to the updated 2010 list published one week before. 

4.12    Uprating £55,000 by 27 per cent delivers a threshold of £69,850 – which in line with convention that the threshold should be rounded to the nearest £1,000 – results in a revised threshold for the 2017 rating list of £70,000. It is therefore recommended – in compliance with the prospectus and having regard to any ballot risks – that the qualifying threshold be set at £70,000 - £15,000 higher than the current level. This revised threshold would also apply until 2021-22 assuming there is no change to the existing BRS legislation on ballots or a revaluation held beforehand.

4.13    Annex D to the draft section 18 notice at Appendix A sets out the estimated number of properties which will be liable to the BRS in 2017-18 using the revised threshold.  It is estimated that a maximum of 46,847 properties would be liable to pay the BRS in 2017-18. This is 159 lower than the estimated numbers liable in 2016-17 based on the updated version of the 2010 list published on 23 September. 

4.14    An estimated 85 per cent of assessments would be exempt from the BRS across London ranging from 68 per cent in Westminster to 94 per cent in Lewisham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. There are significant changes in the numbers liable at borough level however. In 22 boroughs the number estimated to be liable to pay the BRS is forecast to be lower compared to 2016-17 with increases in the remaining 11. In Hackney the number of properties liable is estimated to increase by 27 per cent compared to a 21 per cent reduction in Merton. This reflects the relative changes in rateable values across London compared to the proposed 27 per cent increase in the threshold.

4.15    The prospectus also states in (section 9) that while it is the intention to apply a 2p rate throughout the life of the BRS ‘It is not, however, impossible that if interest rates were to be lower than expected or the BRS taxbase higher than expected following a future revaluation the GLA could levy a lower multiplier than 2p in one or more (five year) valuation period’. Page 96 of the prospectus outlines the six factors that the GLA will take into account when deciding to make variations to the BRS policies. Under section 10 of the BRS Act any variations made to the policies for the BRS which are not made in accordance with the final prospectus would require the GLA to hold a ballot of ratepayers to approve the changes. These six factors are:

(a) the economic position at that time
(b) the level of reliefs applying for different categories of ratepayer at that time under NNDR (which might also impact on the Crossrail BRS). 
(c) the GLA’s projections at this stage assume rates of relief will remain broadly constant over the lifetime of the Crossrail BRS
(d) the impact of each five year revaluation on London’s NNDR taxbase 
(e) variations to the length of the Crossrail BRS arising from changes in interest rates, the cost of the project and the taxbase where this meant that the chargeable period would be less than 24 years or more than 31 years and
(f) the views of London’s business community, the 33 London billing authorities and other non domestic ratepayers

4.16    In considering the above criteria in determining whether to vary the policies for the BRS in 2017-18, the GLA notes the significant increase in national non domestic rating bills which many ratepayers in London are facing in 2017-18 and over the next five years as a result of the Government’s transitional relief scheme. The transition is particularly rapid for up to 7,500 ratepayers occupying properties with rateable values above £100,000 who face increases in their NNDR bills of 42 per cent in real terms in 2017-18. Around one third of these face rises of up to 130 per cent by 2019-20.  There is no provision, however, for a transitional relief scheme to be applied for the BRS under existing legislation and therefore a ratepayer’s BRS liability will increase or decrease proportionately in line with their change in rateable value in April 2017.

4.17    The GLA has received a number of representations since the publication of the draft 2017 rating list on the impact of the revaluation. This included representations from a leading rating agent calling on the Mayor to grant ratepayers a one year holiday from the BRS. Representations have also been received from ratepayers linked to London’s night time economy which have also referenced the impact which increases to BRS liabilities arising from the revaluation combined with the proposed rises in NNDR bills will have on the viability of their business plans. There has also been extensive media coverage of the impact of the revaluation on various London business sectors and localities.

4.18    The London Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey published on 16 January also identified that 42 per cent of London businesses were concerned about the impact of the 2017 revaluation and around one third estimated that they will be paying more in business rates than in rent in 2017-18. This is despite the fact that business rates are only supposed to equate to 48 per cent of the rateable value (i.e. notional rental value) of their property. An independent study published in January 2017 also identified that three-quarters of 130 international retailers surveyed are choosing to expand outside of the UK because of this country’s ‘burdensome and complex business rates system’.

4.19    In determining the final BRS policies the Mayor has to balance these concerns against the need to ensure that the GLA’s Crossrail debt is financed and repaid in line with the agreed profile set out in the final prospectus. The BRS prospectus estimated that for the period of the first revaluation after the BRS was introduced – assumed then to be 2015-16 to 2019-20 – the GLA would need to raise £233 million in order to finance its debt and repay this within the time frames specified in the prospectus assuming rateable value increases at each subsequent revaluation of 15 per cent. As the revaluation took place two years later than envisaged the GLA will have lost the benefit of the assumed uplift in values in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

4.20    The GLA estimates that a 2p BRS multiplier would raise approximately £275.8 million in 2017-18 based on the revised rateable value threshold of £70,000 – approximately £51.3 million higher than the forecast revenues for 2016-17 provided by billing authorities. This represents the sum expected to be collected from ratepayers during the financial year. The apportionment of this by billing authority is set out in Annex E to Appendix A. This is the sum that is estimated to be billed in 2017-18. 

4.21     Unlike National Non Domestic rates (NNDR) where provisions are applied for expected appeals BRS income in each financial year operates on a cash receivable basis with refunds arising from successful appeals being accounted for in the year in which they occur. After applying an assumed 5 per cent loss on the 2017 rating list in line with the Government’s estimate and a provision for outstanding appeals on the 2010 list in line with billing authority estimates for NNDR the GLA estimates that the actual sum which will ultimately be received in respect of 2017-18 net of appeals will be £254.8 million - £21 million less than the sum which it is estimated will be collected during the year. 

4.22    Alternative options for the multiplier have been examined but in light of the potential uncertainty around rateable value growth at future revaluations, the two year delay in the revaluation and the need to ensure the GLA’s Crossrail debt is repaid as soon as practical within the time horizons set out in the final prospectus it would not be prudent at this stage to vary the multiplier and lower the 2p rate in 2017-18. The Mayor will of course need to keep the policies for the BRS under review each year as the final prospectus permits the multiplier to be varied in any financial year.

    Other Relevant Information Relating to the Billing and Administration of the BRS

4.23    The Crossrail BRS is collected and enforced in parallel with NNDR bills. NNDR is collected on behalf of central government by lower tier (district) authorities. In London these are the 32 London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London. Both charges are included on the same bills which, for 2017-18, will be sent out to Non Domestic ratepayers by the 33 London billing authorities before the end of March 2017. The BRS is administered in line with regulations issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under the BRS Act. 

4.24    Billing authorities are permitted to recover ongoing collection and recovery costs (their further administrative expenses) for each year that the Crossrail BRS is levied subject to any limits which may be prescribed by the relevant BRS regulations i.e. the Business Rate Supplements (Administrative Expenses) (England) Regulations 2010 (the ‘administrative expenses’ regulations). 

4.25    Billing authorities further administrative expenses for the eighth (and subsequent) years of the BRS (2017-18) will equate to 0.15 per cent of the BRS income collectable by the GLA (provisionally estimated at £0.45 million across all 33 authorities) as prescribed by the BRS administrative expenses regulations. For 2017-18 only it is proposed that GLA guarantee that no billing authority receives a collection allowance below £7,500 in recognition of the additional workload arising from administering the BRS in a revaluation year including additional ratepayer inquires, adjusting for the change to the rateable value threshold and reporting requirements. Billing authorities deduct any ongoing collection costs from the sums they pay to the GLA during the course of the financial year in equal monthly instalments.

4.26    Under section 18 of the BRS Act the GLA is required to issue a formal notification to each billing authority setting out the final policies, including the information specified in the BRS Act, for the BRS by 1 March although in practice this must be published by mid February to facilitate billing. This will enable billing authorities to make the necessary arrangements for the inclusion of the BRS on 2017-18 rates bills which are due to be circulated to ratepayers from early March 2017.  The proposed text for this notice is set out at Appendix A. 

4.27    The Mayor is also asked to authorise the proposed explanatory note for non domestic ratepayers as  set out in Annex F to the proposed section 18 letter at Appendix A. At the discretion of each billing authority this will either be circulated to all non domestic ratepayers in London as part of the communications supplied with their initial rates bill for 2017-18 or alternatively made available for inspection on that authority’s website. It will also be placed on the Crossrail BRS homepage on the GLA website: www.london.gov.uk/crossrail-brs.

Risks

4.28    The potential risks associated with the BRS are addressed in the final prospectus published in January 2010. Section 9 of the final prospectus addresses the implications for the BRS of the Crossrail project being delayed or the costs increasing above those budgeted and set out the circumstances under which the BRS policies may be varied. As Section 10 of the BRS Act as amended by the 2011 Localism Act requires the Mayor to hold a ballot of ratepayers to approve variations made outside the scope of the prospectus there are also potential risks of challenge if a change to the BRS policies is made which cannot be justified within these parameters. 

4.29    The GLA by 31 March 2017 will have contributed £4.1 billion towards the Crossrail project through the BRS. Of this £0.8m was a direct contribution from BRS revenues towards the project cost and the remaining £3.3 billion has been met through borrowing. In 2017-18 the BRS is being used to finance and repay this borrowing.

4.30    The GLA is forecast to incur £115 million in interest costs on its accumulated Crossrail related borrowing during 2017-18 which will be financed via the BRS and will also repay an estimated £80 million of its Crossrail debt. The remainder of the BRS collected will be set aside to meet the future repayment of the GLA’s residual £3.2 billion of Crossrail debt. The interest costs financed by BRS revenues are equivalent to more than 40 per cent of the GLA’s gross revenue expenditure in 2017-18 on services (i.e. excluding tariff and levy payments under the business rates retention scheme). Therefore the successful ongoing implementation of the Crossrail BRS is critical to the GLA’s medium term planning.

4.31    The GLA is actively managing its Crossrail debt portfolio and monitoring its BRS revenues from London billing authorities to ensure the risks to the GLA budget arising from this are mitigated. As identified above the GLA will also set aside a proportion of the expected BRS revenues for 2017-18 – currently estimated at £21 million - to manage future risks in relation to rating appeals during the period of the 2010 rating list.
 

Financial comments

5.1    The income raised through the Crossrail BRS in the 2017-18 financial year net of billing authority administrative expenses and rating reliefs is estimated at this stage to be £275.8 million before appeals - £51.3 million higher than the forecast for 2016-17 – and £254.8 million after an allowance for appeals which is £35.8 million higher than in 2016-17. As outlined above, £115.0 million of this million is expected to be used to finance the GLA’s estimated interest costs on debt it is forecast to hold by the end of March 2017 and £80 million applied to repay part of its £3.3 billion of Crossrail debt. Any unallocated sums will be retained to finance future debt repayment.  The actual sums collectable in 2017-18 taking into account reliefs and losses on collection will be forecast by London billing authorities before the end of March 2017.

5.2    It is estimated that the BRS for Crossrail will run for a period of at least 24 years until the GLA’s borrowing is repaid – with a current target end date of 2033-34. Over its lifetime it is estimated that between £5.5 billion to £6.0 billion may need to be collected via the BRS to meet the expected repayment profile and financing costs – the former figure being on the presumption that the GLA’s Crossrail debt is repaid in 2033-34 and the latter if the repayment date is up to five years later. 
 

Investment and Performance Board

7.1    The GLA under the previous Mayor committed to contributing up to £4.1 billion towards the cost of the Crossrail project to be financed by a business rate supplement as part of the revised funding package agreed with the Government in October 2010. This reaffirmed the decision taken by the then Mayor at the time of the original Crossrail agreement in November 2007 and the proposals approved by the previous Mayor in the final prospectus for the Crossrail BRS  - ‘Intention to levy a business rate supplement to finance the Greater London Authority’s contribution to the Crossrail project – Final prospectus’ (January 2010) in Mayoral Decision 540. 

7.2    These decisions were taken prior to the inception of the Corporate Investment Board. If the BRS were not to continue in 2017-18 the GLA would be unable to finance the £3.3 billion of borrowing it has already undertaken to finance the Crossrail funding package including the £115 million of interest payments scheduled. As this proposal reaffirms policy decisions taken prior to the institution of the Corporate Investment Board, it represents expenditure which the GLA is committed to make. The expenditure is therefore non discretionary and has not been considered as a new initiative by the Board. The matter for decision by the Mayor is simply to confirm the multiplier, rateable value threshold and related policies.

7.3    This decision was agreed by the Corporate Investment Board on 30 January 2017.
 

Planned delivery approach and next steps

8.1    The 2017-18 BRS policies will be formally notified to billing authorities through the issuing of the section 18 notice required under the BRS Act. The statutory deadline for issuing this is 1 March but in practice this must be issued in the first week of February in order that they can make the necessary arrangements for billing. Those authorities will then issue bills to ratepayers during March 2017 for 2017-18 on which the Crossrail BRS liability due – if applicable – will be set out.  

8.2    Billing authorities will also provide forecasts of the actual income they expect to collect in 2017-18 by 31 March 2017. These forecasts will represent the instalments paid to the GLA during the year net of a 5 per cent contingency as required by the BRS regulations. The actual amounts collected in 2017-18 will be confirmed by billing authorities by 31 May 2018 after which a reconciliation adjustment will be made
 

Appendices and supporting papers

‘Proposal to levy a business rate supplement to finance the Greater London Authority’s contribution to the Crossrail project – Initial prospectus’ (GLA July 2009) – Available at www.london.gov.uk/crossrail-brs

‘Intention to levy a business rate supplement to finance the Greater London Authority’s contribution to the Crossrail project – Final prospectus’ (GLA January 2010) - Available at www.london.gov.uk/crossrail-brs

MD 1590 - Crossrail Business Rates Supplement - Final Policies for 2016-17

Proposed Section 18 Notice Under the BRS Act 2009 to the Director of Finance/Borough Treasurers of the 32 London Boroughs and the Chamberlain of the City of London Corporation (Appendix A - SEE ATTACHED SIGNED VERSION)