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Discretionary Rate Relief for Charities and not-for-profit organisations


The Council is committed to helping non-profit making organisations.  Discretionary Rate Relief is one way in which the Council is able to demonstrate that commitment.

The Council has discretion to grant relief of up to 100% of the rates on properties occupied by certain non-profit making bodies, or in the case of registered charities that are entitled to 80% mandatory relief, to top up the relief to 100%.

To be eligible for consideration under this policy, the premises must be:-

  • Wholly or mainly used for the purposes of recreation and all or part of it is occupied for the purpose of a club, society, or other organisation not established or conducted for profit; or
  • Is occupied for the purposes of one or more institutions or other organisations, none of whom are established or conducted for profit and each of whose main objectives are charitable or are otherwise philanthropic or religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.

The range of bodies eligible for discretionary rate relief is wide, and not all of the suggested criteria will be applicable in each case.

Whilst the granting of discretionary rate relief is a matter for individual billing authorities, to help achieve a more consist approach when considering whether a non-profit making organisation should be entitled to discretionary relief, the Government has provided some guidance.  The Council has taken account of that guidance in drafting their local policy.

The power to determine applications for discretionary rate relief for non-profit making organisations is delegated to the Revenues Manager, in consultation with the Finance and Efficiency Portfolio Holder.

New Forest District Council will apply the following criteria when deciding whether to award discretionary rate relief:


Access and membership

(a)Is membership open to all sections of the community? There may be legitimate restrictions placed on membership which relate for example to the ability in a sport or to the achievement of a standard in the field covered by the organisation or where the capacity of the facility is limited. Clubs or organisations should not be considered if the membership rate is set at such a high level as to exclude the general community. In general, the club or organisation must be prepared to show that the criteria by which it considers applications for membership are consistent with the principal of open access.
(b)Does the organisation actively encourage membership from particular groups in the community e.g. young people, women, older age groups, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, etc? An organisation, which encourages such membership, might expect more sympathetic consideration than one, which made no effort to attract members from groups, which the Council considers to be particularly deserving of support.
(c)Are the facilities made available to people other than members? E.g. schools, casual public sessions, etc? The wider use of facilities should be encouraged and rate relief might be one form of recognition that an organisation was promoting its facilities more widely.

Provision of Facilities

(a)Does the organisation provide training or education for its members? Are there schemes for particular groups to develop their skills, e.g. young people, the disabled, retired people? An organisation providing such facilities might deserve more support more than one which did not.
(b)Have the facilities available been provided by the self-help or grant aid? The fact that a club uses or has used self help for construction or maintenance or had facilities funded by grant aid might be an indicator that they were more deserving of relief. 
(c) Does the organisation run a bar? The mere existence of a bar should not in itself be a reason for non granting relief. The Council will look at the main purpose of the organisation. In sports clubs for example the balance between playing and non-playing members might provide a useful guide as to whether the main purpose of the club is sporting or social activities. A social club whose main aim is to bring together people with similar interests will not be excluded from relief just because of the existence of a licensed bar.
(d) Does the organisation provide facilities which indirectly relieve the Council of the need to do so, or enhance and supplement those which it does provide? The Council will not refuse to grant rate relief on the grounds that an organisation is in competition with the Council itself, but will look at the broader context of the needs of the community as a whole. A new need, not being provided by the Council but identified as a priority for action, might be particularly deserving of support.

Other Considerations

(a)Is the organisation affiliated to local or national organisations, e.g. local sports or arts councils, national representative bodies? i.e. are they actively involved in local/national development of their interests?
(b)Is the membership drawn from people mainly resident in the New Forest District Council area? Where properties are situated close to the Council's boundary, a proportion of the membership may come from another billing authority's area. Also for geographical reasons, particular facilities may be the only ones available for a wide area. In such cases the joint use of facilities by one or more similar organisations is not uncommon. In most cases there will be a measure of reciprocity between the memberships of organisations from different areas.
(c)The organisation should be able to demonstrate a financial need for relief.

General Factors

(a)An application for rate relief shall be made in writing and accompanied by all relevant supporting documentation.
(b)Unless the non-profit making organisation is a new ratepayer, an application will only be considered from the beginning of the financial year in which the application is made.
(c)Unless the non-profit making organisation is a new ratepayer, an application will only be considered from the beginning of the financial year in which the application is made.
(d)A review of an individual organisations rate relief award will be undertaken not less than every 5 years.
(e)This policy will be subject to a review at least every 5 years.





Updated: 22 Aug 2017
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