Local authorities 'cutting discretionary rate relief'

Local charity chief tells conference that councils are said to be doing this to save money

Discretionary rate relief is being cut
Discretionary rate relief is being cut

A charity chief executive has raised concerns that an increasing number of local authorities are ending discretionary rate relief on property owned by charities.

Charities are entitled to discretionary relief of up to 20 per cent in addition to mandatory relief of 80 per cent.

John Blackmore, chief executive of Action Acton, a regeneration charity in the London borough of Ealing, said at yesterday’s Funding the Future conference organised by the consultancy Action Planning that he had heard anecdotally that more councils were removing the discretionary relief to save money.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session, Blackmore asked Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, whether it was something he might look into.

Pickles replied that it was not a matter for central government. "Power has shifted locally to make these decisions," he said. "Local authorities have complete discretion over what relief they give."

Blackmore told Third Sector afterwards he was concerned not only that more charities were losing discretionary relief but also about the fairness with which councils were removing it.

He said he feared larger charities were losing it first and that smaller charities might follow.

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