Local discretionary rate relief policy

Local discretionary rate relief scheme for revaluation support

This scheme forms part of the council’s wider local discretionary rate relief policy. It sets out the principles upon which we will administer applications for revaluation support from those ratepayers facing the steepest increases in their business rate bill as a result of the 2017 revaluation.

This page sets out the broad framework of principles to be used in decision making for this new scheme covering the four financial years from 1 April 2017 (ie ending on 31 March 2021).

Under the scheme, support will only be allowable where a hereditament’s rateable value for 2017/18 is less than £200,000 and where a qualifying ratepayer’s bill has increased above £600 as a result of the 2017 revaluation.

Subject to the impact on the council’s overall financial position, relief will be awarded to qualifying applicants up to a maximum amount; this being the sum of their net rates charge for 2017/18 less £600 minimum increase. The ratepayer must therefore pay at least the first £600 of any increase due under revaluation, drawing on other rules in place that apply to small businesses.

As this relief is discretionary, we will not grant support in any case where it is not considered appropriate to do so, for example where granting the relief would go against the authority’s wider objectives for the local area. Under this same principle, empty property will also be excluded, as the council discourages leaving property empty as it strives to achieve a vibrant business community.

In making a judgement, we will consider the interests of the ratepayer against that of council tax payers in general, taking into consideration local factors.

Scheme principles

  • The rateable value for 2017/18 must be less than £200,000
  • The net rates charge for 2017/18 must have increased in comparison to that for 2016/17
  • The ratepayer must have been in continuous rateable occupation prior to 1 April 2017 and liable for a rate charge on 31 March 2017 (ratepayers occupying premises after 1 April 2017 will not be eligible for relief)
  • Unoccupied properties will not be eligible for relief
  • Properties that are not registered on the rating list for a period covering 1 April 2017 will not be eligible for relief
  • Businesses who benefit from the small business relief cap of paying no more than £50 per month extra (£600 per year) when compared to last years will not be eligible
  • Businesses whose increase in the amount thy are paying compared to last years is less than £50 per month (£600 per year) will not be eligible (to mirror the protection provided for small businesses)
  • Ratepayers operating an intermittent occupation/tax mitigation/avoidance scheme will not be eligible for relief
  • The scheme will target local or regional (North West) organisations. National or multi-national companies, NHS and public sector organisations will not be considered under the scheme
  • In line with the previous principle, multiple property owners and/or occupiers may not be considered eligible for relief
  • Any award will be evidenced by a completed application form, including state aid compliance. Relief will not be awarded where the award would not comply with EU law on state aid.

Liability adjustments

Where a qualifying ratepayer’s rates bill (from 2016/17 as appropriate) is adjusted for any of the following reasons, the amount of their relief due under the term of this policy will be adjusted or removed accordingly:

  • An amended rateable value in the 2010 and, or 2017 rating lists
  • The provision of a certificated value for the 2010 rating list or historical change
  • The application of any additional rate relief or exemption
  • Vacation and re-occupation of the property
  • Any other reason

Future years

The scheme for this financial year will end on 31 March 2018, with an entitlement period covering 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. However, the scheme is based on a four-year Government initiative and therefore for years two, three and four, relief awarded to qualifying individuals will be reduced in line with the Government’s specified level of reduction over the four year term:

  • Year 1    £247K
  • Year 2    £120K
  • Year 3    £49K
  • Year 4    £7K

Allocation arrangements

The local scheme aims to distribute no more than the government grant provided in any year for this purpose. Subject to the scheme principles, support will be provided on a percentage basis, set against the rate increase incurred from financial year 2016/17 to 2017/18, taking into account the first £600 ceiling that all ratepayers need to pay.

In determining initial allocations (normally at the start of the year), an amount equivalent to approximately 5% of the government funding will be retained as a contingency. This is to cover eligible rate increases that may arise during the remainder of the financial year.

An additional allocation at year end will seek to allocate any remaining balance of that contingency, plus any additional amounts that may be available for redistribution, after allowing for any liability adjustments referred to above.

The same basic percentage of relief entitlement will apply to all eligible properties, after the application of other scheme principles.

Decision making and appeals

In line with the council’s wider rate relief decision-making arrangements all decisions regarding the granting of applications of relief under this policy are determined by the Deputy Director (Customer Services)/Head of Shared Services.

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, there is no statutory right of appeal against the council’s use of discretionary powers. However, we will accept a customer’s request for a review of its decision, with appeals to be presented to the Chief Officer (Resources) for further consideration.

Last updated: 04 October 2017