Ashford Rural businesses get rate relief
Several rural businesses are now benefiting from rate relief after Ashford Borough Council agreed to extend the 50% discretionary rate relief to more sole rural public houses and filling stations in the borough.
Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet recommended the move on 12th April and this was approved by Full Council on 19th April.
The 50% discretionary rate relief will now apply to sole rural public houses and filling stations with rateable values between £12,500 and £16,500.
Up to now this type of business, falling in the range of rateable value was not entitled to any rate relief under the council’s discretionary scheme or government mandatory relief.
Five businesses, the Dukes Head Hotel in Hamstreet, the Kings Head in Shadoxhurst, the Red Lion in Biddenden, Hillside Garage in Bilting and the Compasses Inn at Crundale, will now benefit by saving between £3,000 and £3,500 each year.
The amendment will be backdated to 1 April 2012 and will be reviewed after three years.
Cllr Taylor, portfolio holder for core services, said: “Ashford Borough Council is committed to supporting rural businesses in these challenging times and we welcome the opportunity to support those who provide important and valued facilities for local people.”
Background to the scheme and the decision
Rural rate relief was introduced by government several years ago and in 2001 was extended to provide some support to small rural businesses of a certain type.
The extension concerned public houses and filling stations where such businesses are the sole business in a rural settlement.
Legislation dictates the following qualifying rateable values for mandatory (government funded) and discretionary reliefs (partly council funded) to these types of businesses:
• A sole public house or filling station in a rural settlement with a rateable value up to £12,500 qualifies for 50% mandatory relief. Councils may use their discretionary power to top-up to 100% (councils will pay 25% of the cost)
• Between a rateable value of £12,500 – £16,500 mandatory relief does not apply, but councils may award up to 100% relief (councils will pay 25% of the cost)
• No discretionary rate relief is available under the 2001 legislation for sole rural businesses with rateable values greater than £16,500.
Rateable values are determined by the Valuation Office; the council has no influence over these decisions. Values for public houses are based on the Valuation Office’s expectation of income turnover using regional data. They do not necessarily reflect, therefore, the individual circumstances of a particular business.
The council’s current discretionary rate relief scheme was agreed in 2004. Then the council agreed not to provide discretionary top-up relief to sole rural public houses and filling stations where the rateable value of the business fell between two statutory thresholds of £12,500 and £16,500. The council’s decision then was taken on cost grounds and against an economic climate different to the current position.