Calderdale Council recognises the big difference that voluntary and community groups make to people’s lives across the borough. They entertain, they educate and they support our most vulnerable residents. One of the ways we help these organisations is by reducing the amount they have to pay towards their business rates – we do this through our Discretionary Rates Relief (DRR) scheme.
At Cabinet on Monday 27 January, councillors will discuss plans for a revised scheme for Calderdale, taking into account the reduced support available from central Government.
The revised scheme is based on the result of a public consultation that took place between September and December 2013. 121 people responded to the survey, and the feedback received has been taken into account when planning the new scheme.
The revisions are designed to focus the scheme more clearly on supporting smaller and more local organisations. Some of the changes to the scheme include:
- Tightening eligibility criteria for the scheme
- Stopping support for charity shops whose Head Office is outside Calderdale
- Stopping support for organisations whose main focus is outside Calderdale
- Limiting the length of the award from three years to two years – financial situations can change, so while a group may need DRR now, it may be in a better financial position in a few years’ time, meaning our funding could be used to benefit other organisations in greater need
- Reducing relief for organisations whose income is over £100,000 a year
Through these changes we aim to still support the groups that need the most help, and make the scheme fairer, easier to understand and more transparent. If approved by Cabinet, the new scheme will be introduced from April 2015.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Steve Sweeney, said:
“The changes in the support from Government mean that the scheme will cost us – and therefore the taxpayer – more money to run.
“By continuing with the current scheme, we would overspend on our budget by around £50,000 – something that is clearly not viable in these economic times.
“However, we know how important this support is, and our priority is to make sure we direct the funding we spend on DRR to the groups who need it most, and to make sure we spend taxpayers’ money fairly and effectively.”