Section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 gives billing authorities discretion to reduce or remit the payment of rates whilst giving regard to the interests of its Council Tax payers. This legislation gave the power to reduce or remit rates on both occupied and unoccupied property rates.

The ratepayer must satisfy the Council that the ratepayer would sustain hardship if they did not receive the relief. The test of “hardship” need not be confined strictly to financial hardship as the interests of the community in the area may be affected if the relief is not awarded. 25% of any relief or remission is funded by Council Tax payers and the adverse effect from refusing the application may outweigh the cost to the taxpayers.

This policy sets out how we will exercise this discretion and the criteria that must be satisfied.

Criteria for using powers

The applicant must:

  • be providing a unique service to Torbay
  • produce financial records demonstrating any loss of income arising from the factors affecting their trade
  • apply for the relief on a temporary basis and not a year on year relief to help pay the rate liability
  • show that the rate liability is a significant percentage of their total business expenditure
  • submit any other evidence that may be relevant, in their view, to cause that hardship
  • show that if the business was to close due to this hardship then there would be a detrimental effect on the local economy due to unemployment and it should therefore be in the interests of the Council Tax payers to give relief.

Responsible Officer

  • Executive Head of Finance

Once all the information has been received by the Revenue Section a report is submitted to the Head of Finance for consideration of the application.

Decision making process

The Head of Finance will decide every application for Hardship relief where the ratepayer has satisfied the required criteria as laid out in this policy.

Notification of decision

We will notify a ratepayer of its decision within 28 days of receiving sufficient information to make a decision.

Review of decision/re-determination requests

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988 there is no right of appeal against the Council’s use of discretionary powers. However, the Council will accept a customer’s request for a re-determination of its decision, and whether any additional information against the required criteria has been provided to justify a change to its decision.

Notification of review / re-determination decision

We will notify a ratepayer of its decision within 28 days of receiving a request for a re-determination.

Policy Review

This policy will be reviewed annually, or sooner if appropriate, to take account of operational adjustments or changes to legislation. The Council will seek for amendments to this policy to be approved through Cabinet.