WINCHESTER could benefit by more than £1million under a new pilot scheme that civic chief want to take part in.

It comes after cabinet members on the city council agreed to launched a bid to get Winchester into a new government business rates pilot scheme that would see the city the risks and rewards with other Hampshire councils during the 2019/20 financial year.

It said under current predictions, the city council would benefit by keeping more of the business rates it collects on behalf of the government.

However, it would also mean that if business rates were to decrease, councils would be liable to pick up some of the costs.

After approving the bid last week, the city council is now in talks with other councils to get them involved, which would give the bid a better chance of succeeding, according to the report.

The reported, presented by city council finance portfolio holder Cllr Guy Ashton, said: “Being part of a pilot would support the council’s aspiration to be a premier business location.

“These funds could be utilised to provide investment that supports and enhances the area’s infrastructure to retain and grow business.”

The report added that currently the council collects £59m in business rates, of which it gets about £4m back as income.

Cllr Ashton said: "This is an exciting opportunity to work closely with other councils in Hampshire and is another example of the city council working in partnership with others. If the pilot is successful it will provide a clear financial benefit to the council and our residents and businesses.

“The pilot will also prepare the council for when the government changes the way business rates are allocated to local authorities in 2020/21, and offers us an important chance to see what works locally and where the opportunities and risks are ahead of this."

The pilot would work by pooling all the business rates collected by the relevant councils, with no core government grants being issued to those authorities.