On 30 October 2017 in questions to ministers for the Department for Communities and Local Government, I asked the government to consider allowing local authorities to raise business rates from university accommodation providers.
The University of Bristol and the University of the West of England make a huge contribution to the city’s culture and economy. But their planned expansion in student numbers creates pressures for the city’s infrastructure and public services that must be managed effectively.
The government’s choice to pursue austerity has left Bristol City Council in an impossible position. It has to find ways to finance services for a growing population, but the Conservatives are inflicting more and more cuts on the council’s budgets. Finding new ways to fund the growing demand for public services would help, but the government refuses to give councils that option.
Local authorities are in this situation because of the government’s failed plans. That they won’t even consider suggestions that might help is infuriating.
In Bristol, university expansion means that a significant increase in student numbers is putting pressure on stretched local services right now, yet student accommodation providers contribute almost nothing to the costs. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss bringing student accommodation within the scope of business rates, like other businesses, to help to ease this strain on Bristol and other councils?
Marcus Jones (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
I can confirm to the hon. Lady that we have no plans to change business rates by bringing student accommodation into their scope as she advocates.
You can watch the exchange below: