Local authority consults on removing discretionary element of business rates relief for local charity shops
Pembrokeshire County Council has recently invited views on whether to remove the 20% discretionary element of business rates relief it currently grants to charity shops in the area.
There is a national mandatory relief of 80% for charities and Councils may choose to add the remaining 20% so that charities have the benefit of 100% relief from business rates. Pembrokeshire currently grants 100% relief and is considering whether to remove the discretionary element, in particular in favour of local organisations over national charities with shops in the region.
The Council invited views as to whether the discretionary element of the relief should be removed, wholly or partially; whether this removal should apply only to national organisations rather than local; and if so, how to categorise national and local organisations. For example, some national charities operate branch structures and can be considered national movements but operate independent local branches.
Calderdale Borough Council took the same step in 2014 to save Council funds and Pembrokeshire is looking to save £105,000 if it removes the discretionary element of the relief from national charities. The consultation ended recently, but the Council is yet to announce it. Any changes will come into effect in April 2016.
This could mark the beginning of a trend in removing discretionary rates relief across the country, as more and more local authorities look for cost savings in the current challenging economic climate.
The consultation summary can be found on the Council's website here.