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Discretionary Rate Relief Policy consultation

We are reviewing our Discretionary Rate Relief Policy and want your views on the proposed changes.

What is Discretionary Rate Relief?

Some businesses, and charities can apply to pay lower business rates. You can find out more about this on our rate relief page.

What is the Discretionary Rate Relief Policy?

The policy has been designed to ensure that everyone making an application for rate relief is treated in a fair, consistent and equal manner and is considered to be working effectively.

Why are we reviewing the policy?

Community Interest Companies (CICs) are becoming one of the fastest growing types of organisation - ranging from those which are very small to larger organisations which have large turnovers, employ staff members and pay directors' remunerations.

Under the current policy, we consider CIC applications in the same way as those submitted by other non-profit making organisations. This is based on essential criteria and levels of discretion without any specific reductions that may be relevant depending on how they are governed. As any relief granted is partially funded by public money, we need to ensure that our policy fairly assesses the different sizes of CICs and their ability to pay their rates, so that any relief that is awarded is fair to all. 

What are we proposing?

There is one proposed change to the policy. This relates to the qualifying criteria for Community Interest Companies (CICs)

Currently there are 10 CICs in County Durham benefitting from a total of £82,693.80 in discretionary rate relief.

We want to differentiate between CICs that are run on a voluntary basis and those which are nearer to a commercial company. Many other councils make this distinction and seek to limit the support provided to larger CICs.

The proposed changes would impact on CICs where there are:

  • paid directors - a 20% reduction in relief would be applied
  • paid employees - a further 20% reduction would be applied

This means that if both criteria are met, there would potentially be a 40% reduction in relief awarded compared to the current policy. 

There would be no impact on registered charities or trusts, voluntary and community sector organisations, including community and amateur sporting clubs. 

Existing process - inspection of properties

In addition, to ensure that the granting of discretionary rate relief is effective and fair, the review focuses on existing processes such as the power to inspect properties.

Visits and inspections of properties receiving rate relief may be carried out to ensure that properties are being used fully for the objectives of the organisation. This is not a significant change, as inspections are already carried out at premises, however the policy will be amended to formally reflect this current practice.


Icon for pdf Draft Discretionary Rate Relief Policy (PDF, 273.0kb)

Have your say

Your views are being sought on the proposed changes and any potential impact on your organisation if the changes are introduced.

We are directly consulting with all CiCs that may be affected by this change and we also want to hear the views of anyone else who may be affected.

Contact us to tell us your views. If you want to speak to someone be mindful that the office is closed between the 24 December and 2 January.

The closing date for responses is Thursday 5 January 2017.

Contact us
Business rates
03000 268 997
Our address is:
  • Revenues and Benefits
  • PO Box 238
  • Stanley
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH8 1FP
01207 218 876
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