Businesses have until Monday 6th November to comment on an important consultation concerning discretionary business rate relief.
The revaluation of business rates by the Valuation Office Agency took effect on 1st April 2017. This has led to some businesses, including some in the Ashford borough, seeing large increases in the rateable value of the premises they occupy.
A £300m fund has been put in place by government to enable local authorities to put in place a discretionary rate relief scheme. This is intended to help some of those businesses to apply for assistance if they have suffered from the impact of the first revaluation for seven years.
Ashford Borough Council has been allocated a share of the £300m funding pot to cover a four-year period, with £350,000 funding confirmed for year one and £175,000 for year two.
In September the government issued guidance for local authorities and the council put together its proposed scheme to help those business ratepayers who have seen significant increases following the recalculation of the rateable value of the premise they occupy.
A six-week period of consultation began on Monday 25th September and runs until Monday 6th November. Businesses are invited to comment on the proposals. These state that:
- Relief will not be granted where mandatory relief is already granted – this is for charitable organisations
- Relief will only be awarded where the revaluation has seen a business receive an increase of more than 12.5%
- Relief will only be awarded to premises that are occupied – there will be no award for unoccupied premises
- Relief will only be awarded where the rateable value of the premises is less than £200,000
- Furthermore, relief will only be granted for premises that were occupied on 31st March 2017 and 1st April 2017
- Relief will not be granted to new businesses taking up ownership of a premises on or after 1st April 2017
- Relief will be awarded to local businesses – ie those with only one or more premises in the borough council area – not national or multi-national businesses with branches elsewhere
- A local business with more than one premises in the borough may receive discretionary rate relief for more than one premises providing that all other criteria are met
- Businesses will need to complete a short form to apply for the discretionary rate relief once the scheme is ‘live’
The consultation, comprising a short questionnaire, is accessible via the council’s website at: www.ashford.gov.uk/your-community/consultations/
The council has written to the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, major preceptors and parish councils to additionally seek their views.
Cllr Neil Shorter, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “This is a significant consultation to us as an authority and I am concerned that so far we have received only three responses. We have this allocation of money from government to support those businesses in the borough affected by the revaluation. It is important to us that we use the money available in the fairest way possible. That’s where we want businesses to let us know what they think of our proposals.”
Ashford Borough Council has identified and contacted those businesses that are likely to have been affected by an increase of over 12.5% following the revaluation. This represents about 100 businesses out of our 4,000 business caseload.