The Executive was informed that, in his Spring Budget, the Chancellor had announced 3 new Business Rates Reliefs for businesses most affected by the April 2017 revaluation. These were:
· Supporting Small Business – ensuring that no business losing small business rates relief or rural rates relief as a result of the revaluation would face an excessive increase in bills;
· Local Discretionary Fund – a £300m fund to be distributed to the hardest hit businesses under locally designated criteria; and
· Relief for Pubs – a £1,000 rebate for all pubs with a rateable value of under £100,000.
The Small Business Rates Relief scheme and the Pubs Business Rates Relief scheme would be fully funded by the Government provided the relief was awarded in line with the criteria. Each local authority would set its own Local Discretionary Fund scheme, which would be reimbursed by way of a section 31 grant or as a deduction on the NNDR 3 return. Members noted the grants the Council would receive, as follows:
· 2017/18 £219,000
· 2018/19 £106,000
· 2019/20 £44,000
· 2020/21 £6,000
The Government had set some broad eligibility criteria for the Local Discretionary Business Rates Relief scheme, but the level of relief had been left to individual Councils to determine; if the level of relief awarded was greater than the level of grant, that additional cost would fall on the Council. In order to prevent this, the proposed scheme had been designed so that the whole grant, less a 2.5% top slice for contingencies, would be divided equally amongst all eligible ratepayers. Guidance on whether underspends from one year could be carried forward was awaited.
RECOMMENDED to Full Council that
(i) the Supporting Small Businesses Business Rates Relief Scheme, Local Discretionary Business Rates Relief scheme and the Pubs Business Rates Relief Scheme as set out in Annexes A to C of the agenda report be approved;
(ii) the Executive Head of Finance in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance be authorised to make changes to the scheme arising out of the consultation with major preceptors; and
(iii) the Executive Head of Finance, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance, be authorised to make changes to the schemes to ensure that the costs remain fully funded by Government and do not fall on the Council.