Latest articles from Emily Davies

Rate relief changes to 'catch out' masquerading businesses

Changes to rates relief will save Shropshire Council almost £300,000. But councillors have allayed fears that it will impact village halls as previously feared. The unitary authority’s cabinet approved the changes last week. Cllr David Minnery, portfolio holder for finance, stressed it is aimed at “businesses masquerading as something else”. He continued: “I must stress that this is not being done as a means of finding more money or making savings or anything of that nature; it is a three-year review. “We have no intention whatsoever to change the position that village halls find themselves in, but the changes that are being proposed will affect a small number of potentially sports clubs or large scales activities going on in communities where there is a suspicion that maybe they are not operating on the same basis as those that are genuinely entitled to relief. “There is no target set here; it is a matter of being fair to everybody.” The scheme allows the authority to award rates relief and discounts at its own discretion, including charity shops investing in the community and some social enterprises. Under the changes only enterprises where directors are not remunerated would qualify, along will sports clubs registered as being community amateur organisations, and top-up relief for housing associations. Currently it costs £1.2 million across the county with the taxpayer funding 49 per cent at a cost of £574,000. Cllr Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, added: “Village halls will not be affected by this decision. They will continue to get 100 per cent rate relief and that needs making clear.” A consultation on the changes to rates relief launched last week [DEL July 5] and is available at until August 15. The policy will then be brought to full council on September 20 before a fill review takes place in the autumn ahead of the 2019/20 financial year.