The Council has a discretionary power under Section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, in exceptional circumstances to reduce all or part of a business rates bill. The legislation stipulates that a local authority in considering hardship must be satisfied:
- The ratepayer will suffer hardship if relief is not granted
- There is a direct benefit to the ratepayer, or the community, and there are no adverse impact to other ratepayers or the community as a result of awarding relief
In coming to an individual decision we will consider a combination of the following factors:
- Financial Factors
- Income and outgoings - i.e. how is the organisation / individual doing financially. What expenses do they have and what money have they coming in
- Reserves - Does the organisation / individual have any reserves, is the hardship just a temporary measure and could be covered by reserves.
- Other shops / areas of business - Is this a one premises business or are there other areas of the business which could off set any hardship.
- Excessive Outgoings - Is the hardship caused by excessive outgoings, are the level of drawings too large, is the organisation / individual renting excessively large or expensive premises.
- History and Future Planning
- What was the reason for the hardship - is there a recognisable one-off reason for the hardship, or is it just a slow down in trade, or even that the business is just not sustainable.
- Is there an improvement plan - does the organisation / individual have an improvement plan to relive them of hardship and if so what are the chances of success.
- Will the granting of hardship be effective - will the organisation / individual still be unsustainable even with the granting of a reduction in the non-domestic rates liability. Will the money spent by the authority have any longer term benefit or will it just delay the inevitable
- Loss of Amenity
- What would be the effect on the local community - would the local community suffer if the organisation / individual were no longer in existence.
- Are there other similar businesses - if the applicant no longer occupied the premises would the existence of other organisations / individuals mean that there would be no or insignificant loss of amenity
- What area / group is served by the applicant - does the ratepayer serve a limited target audience or do large sectors of the Birmingham community benefit from their existence.
- Another vacant property? - are there other empty properties in the area and another empty property would degrade the area further and be detrimental to the local public.
- Employment Implications
- Number of people employed - What number of people are employed by the organisation / individual and would their jobs be in danger if hardship was not granted.
- How many live in Birmingham - If the reason for granting hardship is to prevent job losses, are those employees protected residents of Birmingham City Council.
- Are employees family members - Are the people employed by the organisation / individual members of their family or are any vacancies open to the general public
- Are the employees taken from an unemployment black-spot - Is the organisation / individual situated in an area where jobs are more difficult to obtain, or are they in an area when the employees would have a greater chance of finding other employment.
- External Factors
- Consideration should be given when certain regional, national or global factors affecting hardship are beyond the organisation's control, particularly when central government provides extra funding and including consideration of rules of state aid.
Birmingham City Council is only able to support applications for hardship relief under these provisions, where we are satisfied on all of the following counts:
- That exceptional hardship is demonstrated;
- That the business is responsible for providing a local amenity and/or employment to Birmingham residents;
- That notwithstanding this hardship, the business has a credible future; and
- That a short term award of hardship relief will materially serve to ensure the future of the business, the continued provision of the amenity and/or employment opportunities: and
- That there is sufficient budgetary provision available to meet the City Council's commitment to fund the relief.
There is no minimum award period. The maximum is 12 months but this would only be in the rarest of circumstances.
Applications will initially be assessed by a Senior Officer against the above criteria in line with our policy.
These awards are discretionary awards and as such do not carry a formal right of appeal. However, if you disagree with our decision you should write to us within one month of the decision letter, clearly setting out the reasons why you think our decision is wrong.
Disagreements of this nature will be considered by an Officer independent of the assessment process. There will however, be no further right of appeal following such a reconsideration.
To apply for Hardship Relief, please complete the form below and send it with a copy of audited accounts to:
Birmingham City Council
Revenues and Benefits
PO Box 5
Copyright: 2011 Birmingham City Council