Property strategy 2017: key issues - including rates changes

Patrick Downes and Steve Pozerskis of the property firm Bruton Knowles spoke about chairty property strategy at the Charities Facilities Management Group meeting on 31 January 2017.

Their presentation looked at some the key strategic issues for charities to consider in 2017, including business rates. 

Bruton Knowles is a national property consultancy that works with many charity clients. Their expertise ranges from making the most of land and property assets, to managing property, to analysing relevant legislation, including the provisions of the Charities Act and dealing with the Charity Commission.  

About rates

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic properties. The rates are based on a property's 'rateable value'. The gov.uk website provides an introduction to the basics of the rates regime. 

Councils send out rates bills in February and March. At present, charities and amateur community sports clubs can apply for rates relief of up to 80% if a property is used for charitable purposes. Charities facilities managers should also check to see whether they  can get additional ‘discretionary relief’. This can be up to 100%.  This discretionary relief is sometimes provided by local councils to give charities extra help.

This rates relief is hugely valuable to the charity sector, and there is increasing concern that councils may be tempted to try and limit the rates discounts they give to voluntary organisations.

The Charity Finance Group has published an in-depth briefing on Charities and business rates relief.  

Rates relief gets especially complicated when charities undertake trading activities, for example running charity shopes or renting out premises. The organisation Help the Hospices has produced a useful briefing about charity shops and rates relief (pdf)

Every few years the government reviews property values and adjusts rateable values accordingly. The next revaluation is in April 2017. 

The slides from Patrick and Steve's discussion about property strategy and business rates are available in pdf format below.

Related materials: