Update from Bristol City Council on Discretionary Rates Relief

Background
Bristol City Council charges Business Rates on all commercial properties and uses them to pay for services we provide. Local Authorities have the power to apply discretionary business rates relief to a commercial property if it is occupied by an organisation with charitable or ‘not for profit’ aims. Bristol City Council has a new Discretionary Business Rates Relief policy which continues to support the arts with discretionary rates relief.
 
Beneficiaries of Discretionary Business Rates Relief include Artspace Lifespace, The Invisible Circus, Lightbox, Jamaica Street Studios, Mivart Street Studios, Residence and Stand and Stare.

Current Situation
 Charitable and not-for profit organisations (this includes arts organisations) can now make an application to Bristol City Council for Discretionary Rates Relief to be applied to their business rates bill for the financial year 2014/15. Although there is no deadline for applications we advise applying as soon as possible in order that any relief awarded can be applied to business rates bills from 1st April 2014.
 
Please be aware that the ‘pot’ of money available to support arts organisations with their business rates bill is finite so it is best to apply early before the pot runs out.
 
Before applying for Discretionary Business Rates Relief we ask all organisations to consider the following:

  1. Can an arrangement be made with the landlord of the property to cover a % of the business rates on that property?
  2. Can any of the cost of business rates bill be shared amongst the beneficiaries of the building? For example if a building has 100 tenants who each contribute an extra £5 a month there will be an additional £6000 to contribute to the business rates bill and leave an additional £6000 in the pot to support another Bristol based arts organisation.
  3. Is the property eligible for any other type of business rates relief, for example small business rates relief? http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/business-bristol/small-business-rate-relief

Only once you’ve considered all the other options for paying your business rates bill should you apply for discretionary rates relief and only for the amount you really need. This will enable us to make the most of the pot we have available to support Bristol based arts organisations with business rates relief.

If you would like to be sent Bristol City Council’s current Discretionary Business Rates Relief Policy and an application form please contact the Business Rates Team on 0117 9223300 or

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