Charity Shops and the Business Rate Relief

Local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales are refusing to offer full business rate relief to charity shops. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA 2000), the Charity Retail Association requested more than 400 local authorities in the country to respond to a survey and out of the 400 responses, half of them said they do not offer full business rates to any charity shops in their area.
Charity shops receive a mandatory 80% discount on their business rates but local authorities, at their own discretion, offer an additional discount for the remaining 20%.  If you have shops in London then you will not get the full rate relief as none of the London boroughs offer the full rate relief.  It appears that Scottish local councils seem to be more generous, over 75% offering full rate relief.
In addition to paying business rates, charity shops are being charged for waste disposal of donated goods in some areas. Withdrawal of funding for local services by the government has been blamed for this charge. However, charities are now able to use household waste recycling centres as an alternative to commercial waste transfer stations.
The application of the full business rate relief is a political ball game, with some councils only offering the relief to charities providing “local” support. Our advice is for charities to try and keep the public benefit at local level and have good relationship with the local council.
To see a charity specialist, contact our partner Suda Ratnam on 020 8418 2681 or suda.ratnam@raffingers.co.uk
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