Business rate relief schemes - Discretionary rate relief scheme

Bassetlaw District Council has the power to award additional relief known as 'discretionary relief' to: 

  • organisations entitled to mandatory relief, including charities
  • non-profit making organisations whose main objectives are charitable, philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts
  • non-profit making organisations occupying premises wholly or mainly for the purposes of recreation

Discretionary Rate Relief Guidelines

Background

Under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (LGFA), billing authorities have the discretion to grant rate relief on all or part of the amount of non-domestic rates payable. Section 47 (2) of the Act places conditions on what type of organisation may receive the award by virtue of the following extract:

The first condition is that one or more of the following applies on the chargeable day:

The ratepayer is a charity or trustees for a charity, and the hereditament is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities):

The hereditament is not an excepted hereditament, and all or part of it is occupied for the purposes of one or more institutions or other organisations none of which is established or conducted for profit and each of whose main objects are charitable or are otherwise philanthropic or religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts:

The hereditament is not an excepted hereditament, it is wholly or mainly used for the purposes of recreation, and all or part of it is occupied for the purposes of a club, society or other organisation not established or conducted for profit.

Discretionary relief for rural properties may be granted to a business that is already entitled to receive mandatory relief. It may also be granted to a business provided that:

  • It is within the boundaries of a qualifying rural settlement (Appendix B);
  • It has a rateable value of not more than £16,500 as from 1 April 2010;
  • It is used for the purposes which are of benefit to the local community, and
  • It is reasonable for the authority to make such a decision having regard to the interests of persons liable to pay Council Tax.

Under Section 49 of the LGFA 1988, councils can also reduce or remit an organisation’s rate liability altogether where the Council is satisfied that:

  • The ratepayer would sustain hardship if the authority did not do so;
  • It is reasonable for the authority to do so, having regard to the interest of the persons liable to pay Council Tax.

Under Section 44a of the LGFA 1988, the Council has the discretion to allow rate relief where a property is partly occupied for a temporary period.

Discretionary Rate Relief cannot be awarded to a billing or precepting authority, including Parish and Town Councils.

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines is to specify how Bassetlaw District Council will operate the Discretionary Rate Relief scheme and to indicate the factors that will be considered when deciding whether to make an award.

The key aims of the guidelines are:

  • To ensure a professional, consistent and timely approach to the award of discretionary rate relief;
  • To provide a framework that gives clarity to the decision making criteria;
  • To treat individuals consistently and fairly regardless of age, religion, sex, gender, disability and sexual orientation;
  • To ensure that an individual’s rights under the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act are upheld.

Priorities

The Council may make awards of Discretionary Rate Relief to ratepayers who meet the qualifying criteria as specified in these guidelines. The Council will treat all applications on their individual merits, but will seek through the operation of the guidelines to meet its stated priorities.

These priorities are:

  • Local Growth (the Council wants to create an environment which attracts new business and supports growth);
  • Quality Housing and Decent Neighbourhoods (the Council wants to create pride in our neighbourhoods, making them clean, safe and accessible);
  • Local Living Standards (the Council wants to meet the challenge of Welfare Reform and stand up for local people).

The Council will deliver these priorities by being:

  • A Viable Co-operative Council (the Council will provide high quality services and improve customer satisfaction for the services we provide).

Application Process - Charitable, Non-Profit Making & Rural Relief

An application for Discretionary Rate Relief (DRR) must be submitted on the relevant application forms.

To assess an application for Discretionary Rate Relief, the Council will need to see copies of the following documents in support of any application:

  • The latest set of audited accounts;
  • The organisations constitution or Articles/Memorandum of Association;
  • Business projections/financial forecasts for new businesses (if no audited accounts).

The Council may also request any other reasonable evidence in support of the organisation’s application.

If the ratepayer does not provide the required evidence, the Council reserves the right to either treat the application as withdrawn or to consider the application in the absence of the missing evidence. However, the Council may disregard any unsubstantiated statements or draw it’s own conclusions from other evidence available. The Council may verify any information or evidence provided by the ratepayer by contacting third parties, other organisations and the ratepayer, subject to Data Protection.

Period of Discretionary Rate Relief Award

The Council will usually award Discretionary Rate Relief from the date on which the original application has been made. However, within statutory limits, the Council may:

  • backdate the award to the start date of the current financial year;
  • backdate the award to another specified date (e.g. the start date of liability).

Awards for Discretionary Rate Relief will end on 31st March of the financial year that it is awarded. However, if the award is granted on a date after 1st January the end date will be extended to 31st March of the following financial year.

Consideration and authorisation of Discretionary Rate Relief

A report, written by the Business Rates Team Leader (BRTL) with a recommendation, is passed to the Chief Finance Officer. In line with the Council’s scheme of delegation, the decision will be made by the Chief Finance Officer with agreement of Cabinet Member for Finance, whether to grant discretionary rate relief and at what percentage.

Appendix A lists the types of organisations that may qualify for Discretionary Rate Relief, criteria to be taken into account (as well as the general matters to be considered below) and recommended maximum percentage awards of relief.

Matters to be considered in making Discretionary Rate Relief awards

When deciding whether to make awards the Council will consider:

  • Whether the application satisfies the legislative requirements and guidance;
  • Whether corporate priorities would be served by the award of relief;
  • Whether the ratepayer is in direct competition with other ratepayers in the immediate vicinity;
  • The specific benefit the ratepayer brings to all residents of Bassetlaw;
  • Who has access to the organisation and how do they access it;
  • Is there a membership and what are the fees;
  • Is it open to all sections of the community or fulfilling a special need within the community;
  • Are particular groups i.e., people with disabilities, OAP’s, minority groups, within the community actively encouraged to join, benefit from or participate;
  • Are members mainly residents of Bassetlaw and how many Bassetlaw residents directly benefit from the services the organisation provided;
  • Is there a measurable contribution to the amenities in the area – loss would affect the areas residents;
  • If there is a licensed bar, is it incidental to the main purpose of the organisation;
  • What is the level of reserves held and is there any intention as to their future use.

If refusal to grant an award of Discretionary Rate Relief would lead to the organisation suffering financial hardship, the Council may consider other relief’s available for example Hardship Relief.

Discretionary Rural Rate Relief

Applications for Discretionary Rural Rate Relief may be received from small businesses situated in parishes with a population of less than 3,000 and subject to strict rateable value restrictions. The qualifying parishes are shown in the Rural Settlement List which is updated each year, the most current shown at Appendix B. These ratepayers are more likely to be private individuals and commercial organisations (as opposed to charitable or not for profit organisations).

Qualifying sole post offices, general stores, petrol filling stations, food shops and public houses will automatically receive 50% Mandatory Relief.

The Council will review all awards annually. The renewal process will be managed by the Business Rate Team Leader who will ensure that the organisations receiving relief continues to satisfy all the necessary criteria.

Hardship Relief

This applies to any ratepayer within Bassetlaw that considers it will be faced with hardship if they do not receive a reduction in the amount of business rates they have to pay. The maximum amount of relief available is 100% of the ratepayer’s annual liability.

Application Process

A letter from the ratepayer must be submitted and must include the following detail before the Council will consider an award:

  • Each application shall be considered on its own merit;
  • It is reasonable for the authority to make such a decision having regard to the interests of it’s council taxpayers;
  • The last 2 years audited accounts supplied by the ratepayer;
  • A forecast for the current year supplied by the ratepayer;
  • A letter detailing how and why the ratepayer is suffering hardship;
  • How many people the ratepayer employs and of those, how many are residents of Bassetlaw;
  • No relief will be given within three years of the commencement of the business;
  • Approvals shall be effective for a maximum of 12 months from the date of application.

Consideration and Authorisation of Hardship Rate Relief

A report, written by the Business Rates Team Leader with a recommendation, is passed to the Chief Finance Officer. In line with the Council’s scheme of delegation, the decision will be made by the Chief Finance Officer with agreement of Cabinet Member for Finance, whether to grant Hardship Relief and at what percentage.

Partially occupied properties - Section 44A relief

Under section 44a of the LGFA 1988 a Local Authority has the discretion to allow rate relief where a property is partly occupied for a temporary period. Partially occupied rate relief (also referred to as Section 44a Relief) is not intended to be used where part of a property is temporarily not used. The intention is aimed at situations where there are practical difficulties in occupying or vacating part of the property.

Application Process

Written application from the ratepayer including the following detail:

  • Detailed plan of the occupied and unoccupied areas, with measurements;
  • Reason for the unoccupied area;
  • Expected date of re-occupation.

Bassetlaw District Council will require access to the property during normal working hours to verify the application. Further access will be required on an ad-hoc basis during the period the relief is awarded.

Relief will not be awarded where it is not possible to verify the application.

Period of Award

Section 44a Relief will only be applied to a property that is partly occupied for a temporary period. Maximum for retail premises, i.e. shops is 3 months. Maximum for industrial premises, i.e. warehouses is 6 months.

Section 44a Relief will end under the following circumstances:

  • At the end of a financial year, regardless of the date relief was applied;
  • Where all or part of the unoccupied area becomes occupied;
  • The liability for Business Rates changes.

Authorisation of Section 44a Relief

A report, written by the Business Rates Team Leader with a recommendation, is passed to the Chief Finance Officer. In line with the Council’s scheme of delegation, the decision will be made by the Chief Finance Officer with agreement of Cabinet Member for Finance.

Calculation of Section 44a Relief

When the application has been verified and authorised by Chief Finance Officer, the Council will apply to the Valuation Office Agency who will then supply the rateable value of the unoccupied and occupied areas.

Notification of the decision will be made in writing to the applicant and where relief is refused, an explanation of the reasons why will be given.

Change of circumstances

Any ratepayer who is in receipt of any award of Discretionary Rate Relief has a duty to notify the Council of any change of circumstances that may affect their entitlement, within 15 working days of the change.

Notification

The Council will inform ratepayers of the outcome of the application within 10 working days of the decision.

The Council will notify:

  • Those whose application is unsuccessful giving full reasons why, including their right of appeal;
  • Those whose application is successful including the amount of relief awarded and their revised liability.

Appeals

The Council will reconsider a decision in the light of additional evidence not submitted with the original application. Any such additional information must be in writing and will be reviewed by the Chief Finance Officer.

Where no further evidence is supplied and the ratepayer wants to appeal the decision they would need to:

  • Appeal in writing; and
  • specify the reasons why the ratepayer feels the decision is incorrect; and
  • make the appeal within 10 working days of the ratepayer being notified of the Council’s decision not to award Discretionary Rate Relief.

A second stage appeal will be determined by the Chief Executive and Cabinet Member for Finance. The ratepayer will be informed, in writing of the outcome within 10 working days. If the ratepayer remains dissatisfied then their right of appeal is by way of Judicial Review.

Appendix A

Type of Organisation  Mandatory Relief Criteria Recommended Discretionary Relief80%
Registered Charities 80% Local organisations that are open to all sections of the community, providing support, guidance, ie play schemes, training, youth groups. Up to 20%
Registered Charities 80%  National organisations with local offices who benefit the Bassetlaw area, but also other parts of the country/world. Up to 20%
Charity Shops 80%  Consideration must be made in these cases that a competitive advantage in the marketplace is not give if further relief is granted.  Up to 20%
Community Organisations No Local organisations that recognise diversity and benefit the residents of Bassetlaw. Up to 100% 
Social and Working Men’s Clubs No  Local or national affiliation, access and membership requirements, and social (bar) facilities and financial status are to be considered. Up to 100%
Sports Clubs No  Refer to ‘Applications from Sports Clubs’ in guidance notes.  Up to 100% 
Miscellaneous Organisations No Purpose, funding, access and membership, social (bar facilities) and relevant financial status are to be considered. Up to 100% 
Organisations in Rural Settlements      
Sole general store, post office, food shop 50% Rateable Value < £8,500 50%
Sole public house, petrol filling station 50% Rateable Value < £12,500 50%
Miscellaneous Organisations No Rateable Value < £16,500 Up to 100%

 

Appendix B

Pursuant to Section 42 (a) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, the following areas have been designated as rural settlements for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Askham Misson
Babworth Misterton
Barnby Moor Nether Langwith
Beckingham Newington
Bevercotes Normanton on Trent
Blyth North Leverton with Habblesthorpe
Bole North Wheatley
Bothamsall Norton
Carburton Oldcotes
Church Laneham Ragnall
Clarborough Rampton
Clayworth Ranskill
Cottam Rhodesia
Cuckney Saundby
Darlton Scaftworth
Dunham on Trent Scrooby
East Drayton Shireoaks
East Markham South Leverton
Eaton South Wheatley
Elkesley Stokeham
Everton Sturton le Steeple
Fledborough Styrrup
Gamston Sutton cum Lound
Gringley on the Hill Torworth
Grove Treswell
Haughton Tuxford
Hayton Walkeringham
Headon Wallingwells
Holbeck Welbeck
Laneham West Burton
Langold West Drayton
Lound West Markham
Marnham West Stockwith
Mattersey Wiseton

 

 

 

 


Last Updated on Monday, August 6, 2018