Crossrail to cost businesses 3% on rates

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The Independent Online

Companies across London will have to pay a 3 per cent premium on their business rates if the £10bn Crossrail project goes ahead, it emerged yesterday.

The tax would be reviewed every three years to decide whether the economic benefit of the east-west link meant that employers should pay more.

It is thought this system for extracting private sector funding could be used elsewhere in Britain for other projects as part of the continuing attempt to supplement public investment.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, said a "consensus" had emerged about the level of business rates needed to back the venture.

Michael Snyder, of the Corporation of London, said Crossrail would probably be financed equally by the state, private sector and fares paid by passengers on the services which would run from Heathrow in the west to the Thames Gateway in the east.

Although a government-backed enabling Bill is going through Parliament at the moment, there is no hard-and-fast funding commitment from the public or private sector.

To try to galvanise financial backing from the business community, Mr Livingstone said yesterday a series of major companies had given the venture their support. Among them was BT, Standard Chartered, Deutsche Bank and British Airways.

Mr Livingstone said Crossrail was essential to the future of London and the UK, and more important to future prosperity than the London 2012 Olympics.

The railway would support the renewal of the West End and enable the City and Canary Wharf to keep their "global edge", he said. It would also serve the more deprived areas of the East End.

The Mayor said: "A project as large as Crossrail will take 10 years to complete even after the definitive decision to go ahead is taken ... To carry forward momentum after the Olympics, the key decisions to enable its construction must be taken while the Bill is going through Parliament."

Transport for London calculates that the new link would add a net benefit of £30bn to Britain's GDP over 60 years and contribute £12bn in tax revenues.