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Review of Discretionary Rate Relief

22 March 2017

We have reviewed how Discretionary Rate Relief is paid to organisations such as charities, village halls and sports clubs.

We are introducing a more streamlined system to simplify and speed up the application process for charitable and non-profit making groups and rural businesses.

Currently 163 organisations across South Lakeland qualify for almost £140,000 in Discretionary Rate Relief. Those organisations will now be notified and invited to reapply for it from April 2018, based on new guidelines.

Cllr Peter Thornton, our portfolio holder for finance, said: “The purpose of the review isn’t to disadvantage organisations which receive Discretionary Rate Relief but to improve and speed up an administrative system which is overly complicated.

“Those who currently receive the rate relief have 12 months notice of the changes before they’ll be invited to reapply, while all new applicants will be considered under the newly-revised system from April of this year.”  

Local authorities have the ability to award the relief to organisations and rural businesses providing they meet certain criteria. Any relief awarded is used to reduce or fully remit the amount that the organisation has to pay in non-domestic rates.

In South Lakeland 69 village halls and institutes, 24 sports clubs and 14 rural post offices are among those currently receiving the relief. 

“Our current policy for awarding and refusing relief, which has been in place since 2014, is time consuming and needs to be more flexible. By speeding up the process we expect what currently can take up to 12 weeks to achieve will be completed in just a couple of weeks. We would like to reassure all those currently in receipt of the relief and new applicants that our officers are here to give help and advice,” added Cllr Thornton.     

Our review coincides with a number of organisations currently receiving Discretionary Rate Relief moving to Small Business Rate Relief from the 1 April 2017.