Charity Shops

How to protect discretionary rate relief

We know that many of our members are finding it more and more difficult to get the discretionary rate relief they deserve from their local councils. It is perhaps unsurprising that councils are chasing money in any way they can, following a decade of significant reduction in their funding, however we do believe it is unfair that this comes at the cost of charity shops.

One way they achieve this is by rolling back rate relief for charitable properties by removing the additional 20 per cent of discretionary relief from shops. Recently, our members have contacted us about a further issue of councils challenging the right of charity shops to receive any relief if they run them via trading subsidiaries.

We are working on this problem in two main ways.

Firstly, we have produced guidance and support for our members on house to overcome the problem. Read the guidance on this topic in the members’ area of our website.

Secondly, we are lobbying for change. We do not think that this is fair or in the spirit of the legislation. Therefore, sorting out this loophole was “ask three” in our first ever Manifesto for Charity Shops which we released to all political parties ahead of the last General Election in 2017.

We took this idea to the Charity Tax Commission last year when they issued a call for evidence on a range of charity tax issues, and issued a guidance note for our members so they could also join our campaign for change.

It was therefore great to learn on 17 July that reforming this loophole was one of the recommendations to government in the Commission’s final report, as we reported on our website last week.  We hope this will move our campaign forward several steps.

Matt Kelcher
Head of Public Affairs and Research
Charity Retail Association