Wealden District Council
You are using an unsupported version of Internet Explorer.
Parts of our website may display incorrectly or not work at all. Please consider downloading an up to date browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

Discretionary Rates Relief Policy 2023/24

The purpose of these guidelines is to outline the level of discretionary relief that can be considered and granted to eligible non-domestic ratepayers within the District.


The objectives of this policy are to:

  • Be equitable and balance the wider interests of the community with the resources made available by the Council Tax payer;
  • Be clear and transparent;
  • Set out, as far as possible, objective criteria rather than subjective judgements for the award of discretionary rate relief;
  • Be simple to administer;
  • Take account of the Council’s financial priorities;
  • Support the delivery of the Council’s Objectives and Priorities; and
  • Offer stability to those organisations receiving relief.

The Local Government Finance Act 1998 requires local authorities to grant mandatory relief for premises occupied by charities and used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.

In 2003 this was also extended to include Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs), registered with HMRC.

Mandatory relief for such organisations is funded by the government and gives a recipient an 80% reduction in their business rates.

In addition the mandatory relief, the Head of Finance can make an additional award of 1% up to 20% of the remaining balance of the bill after mandatory relief.

The following table set outs the circumstances when an additional award may be considered.
WhoLevel of Relief
1. Charitable bodies entitled to mandatory rate relief of 80%No additional relief unless there are exceptional circumstances and there is a benefit to the local community
2. Businesses in rural settlements where the granting of relief is in the interests of the local community and does not qualify for 100% mandatory reliefUp to 100% subject to clear evidence of the interests of the local community, unless there are exceptional circumstances
3. Non-profit making organisations whose main objects are philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts not entitled to mandatory reliefUp to 80% discretionary relief
4. Sports and Social Clubs and Community Centres:
(a) Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC’s) eligible to be a registered club for the purposes of Schedule 18 to the Finance Act 2002 and entitled to mandatory relief of 80%No additional relief
(b) Voluntary sports clubs occupying modest premises which are devoted specifically to the sports or pastimes concerned and are unable to registrar with the Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC)as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC)Up to 80% discretionary relief
(c) Clubs with membership rates set at a high level likely to exclude the general publicNo relief
(d) Clubs with a membership mainly consisting of residents of Wealden DistrictUp to 80% discretionary relief proportionate to members resident in Wealden District
(e) Clubs with a membership mainly consisting of non-residents of Wealden DistrictNo relief
(f) Social clubs used mainly for public recreation (Excluding those which incorporate a profitable licensed bar)Up to 80% discretionary relief
(g) Community centres (where a licensed bar, if present, is ancillary only to the primary use of the premises)Up to 80% discretionary relief
5. Education establishments (schools, academies, colleges, universities etc.) which are not charitable trusts and not entitled to mandatory reliefNo relief
6. Rate Relief to Businesses under s.69 Localism Act 2011
(a) For economic development or regeneration purposes
Subject to a separate Cabinet decision setting out the criteria and the setting of a budget to fund the initiative.
7. Charity Shops which are run by registered companies and not entitled to mandatory reliefNo relief

All applications should be made in writing, on the relevant form, from the ratepayer, their advocate/appointee or a recognised third party acting on their behalf, who the Council has accepted, and the ratepayer has given appropriate authorisation to them to discuss their affairs. This form can be submitted electronically or if available made online.

Ratepayers must provide sufficient supporting evidence (such as memorandum of association, charity registration, accounts etc.) for the application to be considered.

It is for Council Officers to determine for each case what level of evidence is required.

All applications will be considered on their merits.

Ratepayers acknowledge;

  • that any application for Discretionary relief does not negate in any way the ratepayer’s obligation to pay Business Rates as demanded. Failure to do so may result in additional costs being added to the outstanding balance.
  • Relief will not to be granted where the amount is outstanding as a result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect on the part of the ratepayer to pay Business Rates.
  • Relief will not to be granted in order to prevent recovery action being instigated by the Council or to stop bankruptcy or committal proceedings commenced by the Council or any other body.

The ratepayer must notify the Council immediately by phone, email or in writing about any changes in their circumstances which might affect their claim for a discretionary reduction. All changes in circumstances must be notified within one month of the date of change.

Failure to notify a change in circumstance may result in the withdrawal of the reduction granted. The ratepayer will be required to repay any outstanding amount to the Council.

The Council may revise an award where the applicants circumstances have changed and they affect the liability.

Granting of discretionary rate relief is delegated to the Head of Finance who may decide awards in consultation with the Portfolio Holder. They may delegate this responsibility to the Local Taxation and Benefits Manager.

The Head of Finance / Local Taxation and Benefits Manager will decide each case on its merits, if necessary after consultation the Portfolio Holder. A documented record will be maintained of each award, including the authorisation by the Head of Finance / Local Taxation and Benefits Manager.

Backdated awards may be considered at the discretion of the Head of Finance and may be backdated to the start of the financial year or the date the hereditament became liable for rates in the financial year the application was made, whichever is the later.

Discretionary Relief will be awarded for a specified period not exceeding three years. Revocation of relief will occur automatically on a change of ratepayer. For any other revocation of relief notice will be given at the end of the proceeding financial year that relief will be ended at the end of the next financial year.

A report on all Rate Relief awarded including Discretionary Relief will be made available on the request of the Cabinet Portfolio Holder and/or by Cabinet.

If the ratepayer is dissatisfied with a decision not to grant relief they may request a redetermination of the Council’s decision. The request must be in writing, submitted within 28 days of the original decision and contain any additional information necessary that will justify a change to the original decision.

The redetermination will be carried out by the Head of Customer, Digital, Revenues & Benefits. The 151 Finance Officer and the Portfolio Holder may also be consulted during the review.

Redeterminations will usually be determined within 21 days of receiving sufficient information.

The ratepayer will be informed in writing of the Council’s redetermination decision, the reasons for the decision and receive a revised business rates demand if appropriate.

Any further review must be on a point of law by judicial review.

During any review any amount of business rates outstanding remains payable and if not paid enforcement action will be considered.

If the applicant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of any review, certain appeals against the Council’s decision can be made to the Independent Valuation Tribunal Service.  Further information about how to make an appeal can be found on the Council’s website.

The Council is committed to protecting public funds and ensuring funds are awarded to the people who are entitled to them. The ratepayer agrees, on making a claim, that any and all information given may be shared with other public authorities for the purpose of detecting fraud.

Personal information provided to claim reliefs may be shared with fraud prevention agencies to prevent fraud and money laundering, and to verify people’s identity. If fraud is detected, you could be refused certain services, finance or employment. More details can be found on our Investigations webpage  

Any claim for a reduction in Business Rates liability based on falsely stated circumstances or false evidence will be investigated and may lead to criminal proceedings.

The Council will not tolerate fraudulent claims.  Any fraudulent claim will be investigated and prosecuted.The amount of the hardship relief will be cancelled and must be repaid in full to the Council.  The Council always publicises successful prosecutions in local media and names and gives the address of the taxpayer. 

The taxpayer must sign any claim to certify that the information given is accurate and reflects their circumstances and accepts the Council may prosecute them.

The Council’s complaints policy and procedure (available on the Council’s website) will be applied in the event of any complaint received about this policy.

This policy will be reviewed every year and updated as appropriate to ensure it remains fit for purpose. A review may take place sooner should there be any significant changes in legislation