Hardship Relief Policy

Reduction/Remission on the grounds of hardship (up to 100%)
Legislative requirements (Section 49, Local Government Finance Act 1988) -

The billing authority has the power to reduce the amount a person is liable to pay provided the Authority is satisfied

  • the ratepayer would sustain hardship if the authority did not grant relief; and
  • it is reasonable for the Authority to grant the relief having due regard to the interests of the Council Tax payers.

Although there is no statutory definition of hardship some guidance has been provided by the government to assist in the consideration of hardship applications.

a) a blanket approach, either to give or not to give relief, should not be adopted by the Authority, each application should be considered on its own merits

b) any relief granted should be the exception rather than the rule

c) the test of hardship need not be confined to 'financial', all relevant factors affecting the ability of a business to meet its liability for rates should be taken into account

d) the 'interests' of local tax payers in an area may go wider than direct financial interests. For example, where the employment prospects would be worsened by a company going out of business, or the amenities of an area might be reduced by, for instance, the loss of the only shop in a village

e) where the granting of the relief would have an adverse effect on the financial interests of local tax payers, the case for reduction of rates may still on balance outweigh the cost to the local tax payers.

Council Policy Guidelines for Hardship Relief

a) Any decision must be balanced against the wider interests of the council tax payers of the District.

b) There must be proof that hardship exists.

c) Evidence must be provided to support the application.

d) A copy of the previous two years audited accounts for the organisation should be provided.

e) The amount of rates that will be remitted will depend upon the circumstances of each case.

f) Applications will be effective for a specific period and may then be reviewed. Relief will be withdrawn on the sale of the business.

g) The purpose of this policy is to support local businesses in the community.

Authority to award this relief is delegated to the Head of Revenues in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Efficiency (or in his/her absence the Leader of the Council).

From 1 April 2013 40% of the cost of this relief is met by the Authority.