A BID by 14 Lancashire councils to keep more of their business rate cash to spend locally has been approved by government.

Local government minister Rishi Sunak has authorised a pilot scheme in the county to allow them to keep 75 per cent rather than 49 per cent of any increase in the taxes levied on firms and retailers.

This is expected to raise more than £9million for the 14 authorities - which include Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle, and Rossendale - to spend locally. Much of the cash will be used to promote economic development.

The bid, put together in just three weeks to meet a government deadline, was spearheaded by Ribble Valley borough finance director Jane Pearson.

The extra cash will be available in the 12 months starting in April next year and is the first such scheme in the country.

Ribble Valley Council leader Cllr Ken Hind said: "This is wonderful news. I am delighted that we will be able to keep more of our business rate revenue to spend on local projects and economic development. It shows that when 14 local council work together they can achieve results."

Cllr Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We’re pleased to be selected for a national pilot allowing councils to retain 75 per cent of their growth in business rates.

"We’ve worked with other councils to successfully bring this to Lancashire, which will result in an additional £9m boost for the area.

"This is welcome news, as this extra funding could help to support our work to deliver high-quality services for people in Lancashire, at a time of increasing pressures and demands on certain services.

"This pilot should also bring additional support for economic growth that will benefit local people, which continues to be one of our key priorities.”

Cllr Andy Kay, Blackburn with Darwen Council resources boss, said: “This is a one-year deal and will marginally help for the coming financial year. Information is still coming through and while we are grateful for everything from central Government this is but a drop in the ocean.”

The successful bid is part of the government's plan to end the current Whitehall revenue support grant by 2020/2021

The only Lancashire council not to take part was Lancaster.