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.
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.
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.
The Allchurches Trust has announced a grants scheme to enable churches to install roof alarms to deter metal thieves.
Churches can apply for a grant of £1,000 towards the cost of a roof alarm system. The alarm system must be approved by their insurer, and the church’s governing body must commit to maintain the system for five years. The closing date for applications is February 28th 2107.
11th Century Gloucester Cathedral installs solar panels
Gloucester Cathedral is installing solar panels as part of plan to make ancient building fit for the future.
Gloucester Cathedral plans to install up to 200 solar panels on on its roof. The panels will generate 25,000 kilowatts of energy - and will enable the Cathedral to reduce its energy bills by a quarter.
The National Churches Trust has launched a campaign to highlight the importance of churches to local people and communities. The campaign, entitled “50 Things to do in a Church” celebrates the many and diverse ways church buildings are used, and asks the public to share their favourite things to do in a church or chapel.