Purpose of Report
To provide the Joint Committee with an update on current issues with non-domestic rates.
That the report be noted.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reason for Decision
The following updates were noted:
Supporting Small Business Relief Scheme – 2017/18 to 2020/21
This relief was made available to those ratepayers who faced a large increase as a result of the loss of small business or rural rate relief. The number of hereditaments that had been identified for 2018/19 and 2019/20 and had benefitted from the scheme as at 30 April 2019 for the City of Lincoln, North Kesteven and West Lindsey was set out in the report at paragraph 4.1.
Discretionary Relief Scheme
The table under paragraph 4.2 of the report showed the number of accounts identified and the total cost of relief for all three years for comparison purposes. Two amendments to the total award columns for the City of Lincoln and North Kesteven in 2018/19 were reported at the meeting as £95,864 and £90,816 respectively.
A review of the awards would take place in July and any additional awards would be made prior to the annual deadline of 30 September 2019. It was noted that this was a discretionary relief which the local authority was compensated for.
Eligibility criteria had been provided to local authorities in response to the inclusion of a discount for retail properties in the 2018 autumn budget, in recognition that high streets and town centres were crucial parts of communities and local economies. Local authorities would be reimbursed using a grant under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 for this purpose.
Retail discount awarded for 2019/20 for each of the three authorities was set out in paragraph 4.3 of the report. It was agreed that the latest figures relating to retail relief would be circulated to members in due course.
Business Rate Pilot – 100% Business Rates Retention in 2018/19 – 75% in 2019/20
Based on the unaudited NNDR3’s submitted by each of the Lincolnshire pilot authorities, the additional resources generated between being the previous pool arrangement and being in a pilot was outlined in the table at paragraph 5.2 of the report and equated to £30,274,000.
Although the pilot bids were only awarded for a one year period, the 2018/19 Local Government Finance Settlement promised a further round of new pilots in 2019/20. Following consideration by Chief Executives and Section 151 Officers, a bid for 2019/20 pilot status, based on the existing pilot authorities, was submitted in September 2018. As part of the bid submission a request was made to form a Lincolnshire business rate pool should the 100% business rate bid not be approved. Unfortunately the bid was not successful and therefore the Lincolnshire pool had been re-established from 1 April 2019.
Recent Court of Appeal Decision – Automated Transaction Machines
Details relating to a Court of Appeal decision regarding business rates associated with automated transaction machines at supermarkets was set out within the report. On 10 December 2018, the Valuation Office Agency submitted an application for the right of appeal to the Court of Appeals ruling. Information received by officers indicated that the Supreme Court may take up until June 2019 to decide whether to hear the case, adding a further 18 months to two years before a further decision was likely to be made.
This continued to have implications for local authorities as automated transaction machines were now included as an appeal threat and provision would need to be made for potential refunds. In answer to a question, it was acknowledged that it would be the responsibility of local authorities to meet the cost of any potential refunds. A table showing the potential financial impact would be provided at the next meeting of this Committee.
Discussion ensued on the subject of growth relief and it was agreed that future reports would include updates on growth relief for the City of Lincoln and North Kesteven.