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Discretionary Rate Relief

We are consulting on proposals to award discretionary rate relief to help smaller businesses facing large increases in rates bill due to April’s revaluation of rateable values.


The Government is giving funding to councils so that they can offer rate relief to some businesses that have experienced large increases in their rates bill due to the revaluation of business properties in April 2017.  It is up to each council to decide how it will use the funding, but in each case the funding is limited and councils will not be compensated for any loss in income if they award more rate relief that the funding allows.


Bedford Borough Council is proposing some changes to its discretionary rate relief policy so that it can award this “revaluation rate relief” to qualifying businesses.  The proposed changes are intended to:

• Help businesses occupying smaller properties (properties with a rateable value of less than £200,000)
• Help those businesses with the largest increases (increases of more than 12.5% compared to last year’s bill)
• Encourage properties to be occupied
• Use as much of the funding as possible but avoid any reduction in overall income to the Council


Under the proposed scheme the Council will work out by how much the rates bills of qualifying businesses have increased above 12.5%.  It will then calculate the funding available as a percentage of that amount.  The amount of rate relief awarded to each qualifying business will be that same percentage of the business’s individual increase in its rates bill (after allowing for an initial increase of 12.5%).


For example, if the total funding for rate relief is equal to 50% of the overall increase in rates bills (above 12.5%) for qualifying businesses, each qualifying business will receive rate relief for 50% of the amount by which the business’s bill increased above an initial 12.5% increase.


How to find out more and have your say

The Council is inviting responses to the consultation and, in particular, would welcome response to the questions below;

You can view the proposed new policy here

You can view a summary of the proposed amendments to the policy here

We are inviting comments on the new policy and we are particularly interested to hear your views on the following questionsHave your Say

Question 1 - Do you agree with the proposal to share out the rate relief based on the overall increase in bills for eligible businesses?
Question 2 - Do you agree that rate relief should not be awarded for unoccupied properties?
Question 3 - Do you agree that rate relief should not be awarded for rates bills relating mainly to equipment and machinery?
Question 4 - Do you have any alternative suggestions for awards of this form of rate relief?
Question 5 - Do you have any suggestions that would help to avoid any unintended discrimination that might arise from the proposals?

You can send your comments to
Email: consultingbedford@bedford.gov.uk
Post: Consulting Bedford, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP

The consultation is open from 11 October 2017 and closes at 9am on 9 November 2017. Comments received will be published.


What happens next

The responses to the consolation will be considered by the Finance Portfolio Holder who will make the final decision about the changes to the Policy.  The decision will be published as a formal Executive Decision as soon as possible after the consultation closes.

Once the revised policy is agreed the Council will contact all ratepayers that may be eligible for “revaluation relief” to advise them of the final policy and the revised policy will take effect for rates charges from 1 April 2017 onwards. 


Previous Consultation

A decision was made by the Council's Executive on 8 March 2017 which can be viewed here

A decision was made by the Council’s Executive on 13th March 2013 which can be accessed here

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