Urgent Telephone 4pm - 8.30am : 01233 331111

Local Discretionary Rate Relief Scheme

Background to the Local Discretionary Rate Relief scheme

This scheme was adopted by council on 12 December 2017.

The revaluation of business rates by the Valuation Office Agency took effect on 1 April 2017. This was the first revaluation for seven years.

It led to some businesses, including some in the Ashford borough, seeing large increases in the rateable value of their premises.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer put in place a £300m fund to enable local authorities to provide a discretionary rate relief scheme. The intention of which is to help some of those businesses apply for financial assistance.

Ashford Borough Council was allocated £350,000 for year one and £175,000 for year two. A consultation ran from Monday 25 September until Monday 6 November. The council wrote to the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, major preceptors and parish councils to seek their views.

We also asked all local businesses to take part. Though there were only nine responses, there was strong feeling that such a scheme should exist.

The majority of respondents did state that they felt the original proposal – where relief was only to be awarded if the revaluation had seen a business receive an increase of more than 12.5% - was unfair.

We have therefore addressed this. After further detailed analysis of the businesses that will be affected, we identified that the funding allocated by central government will enable support relief to be granted to businesses that have seen an increase of 2%.

The following criteria apply when offering local discretionary business rate relief.

  • Relief will not be granted to new businesses taking up ownership of a premises on or after 1 April 2017.
  • 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 2%.
  • 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 31 March 2017 and 1 April 2017.
  • Relief will be awarded to local businesses – i.e. those with only one or more premises in the borough council area – not national or multinational 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.
  • It is also proposed that in year one of the scheme, given that 2% is an acceptable increase, the council will use the discretionary rate relief to bridge the gap between that and the actual increase.
  • In year two of the scheme, given that the council’s funding pot is halved, the council will award half of the rate relief it would have awarded in year one.

If you believe you are entitled to this relief please submit a Local Discretionary Rate Relief application.