What is the hardship relief scheme?

Section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 gives the council a discretionary power to reduce or remit the payment of rates by granting hardship relief. 40% of the cost of the relief granted falls directly on local Council Tax payers, so the council must ensure that the granting of it benefits the wider community as well as the ratepayer concerned.

How is hardship relief granted?

Any relief will normally be granted as a percentage of the rates payable for a specific period, usually the rating year in which the application is made. In some cases, interim decisions may be made subject to review in the light of the actual financial accounts for the period concerned.

An applicant who is granted relief is entitled to re-apply for it in subsequent years and in the event of such a re-application the council may require the ratepayer to provide evidence from an accountant or other professional adviser regarding the long-term financial viability of the business.

What are the general qualifying criteria?

The applicant must be liable to pay Non-Domestic Rates to Stratford-on-Avon District Council. The council must be satisfied that:

  • the ratepayer would sustain hardship if the council failed to grant hardship relief
  • it is reasonable to grant the relief having regard to the interest of persons subject to the Council Tax

The test of “hardship" need not be confined strictly to financial hardship and applicants should disclose all relevant factors affecting the ability of the business to meet its rate liability.

The “interest" of local Council Tax payers may go wider than direct financial interests; for example, where employment prospects in an area would be worsened by a ratepayer going out of business, or the amenities of an area might be reduced by, for instance, the loss of a neighbourhood shop.

Which ratepayers are most likely to qualify?

While the council can consider an application from any ratepayer who satisfies the qualifying criteria, applications are particularly welcome from ratepayers in respect of the following categories of properties:

  • village shops
  • starter units
  • small specialist shops unique to an area
  • new ventures filling gaps in the market
  • areas facing a decline in trade
  • neighbourhood shopping parades

The above list is for guidance only and is not conclusive. Hardship relief should not be regarded as automatic under any circumstances.

It is unlikely that it would be granted in respect of an empty property or where there is little expectation of economic survival.

Businesses that are situated in a rural settlement may qualify for rural rate relief . Such businesses may be required to apply for that before an application for hardship relief can be considered.

Small businesses occupying only one non-domestic property in England may qualify for small business rate relief . Such businesses may be required to apply for that before an application for hardship relief can be considered.

What are the application requirements?

The following information will be required in support of applications:

  • completed application form
  • past two years' audited accounts or, in the case of a new business, an estimate of annual income and expenditure
  • cash flow forecast for a minimum of the next 12 months
  • any other information that may be appropriate in support of your application

How are applications for hardship relief determined?

Each application is considered on its merits in accordance with Government guidelines.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Revenues:

Contact: The Social Inclusion team

Last updated on 09/07/2018