Northumberland County Council is responsible for collecting rates from non-domestic buildings throughout the county. Village halls and community buildings have long been offered substantial concessions by both central and local government. At present 80% of the rates bill for buildings, owned and managed by charities, is not charged to the hall. This is known as the 80% Mandatory Relief.
The “discretionary” element, decided upon by local authorities, is therefore limited to the remaining 20%. In Northumberland, depending upon the level of community benefit they can evidence to NCC, most halls receive the full concession on this 20%. The stronger evidence of community benefit they provide, the more points they score and the lower the rates bill. The Revenues Section of the County Council apply a light touch on bona fide community buildings and so most village halls receive the maximum 20% discretionary relief so they end up paying nothing.
Applications for Discretionary Rate Relief (DRR) can be obtained from here. There are 10 questions and the answer to each one is scored. One of the questions asks if your “organisation is affiliated to a local or national representative body?” So being a member of the Consortium will allow you to earn extra points. Halls which receive more than 66 points should receive the full 20% relief and therefore pay no rates. See Guidance Notes For the last few years halls have been assessed every two years. If your hall hasn’t received an applications form, or has never received rate relief in the past, it it important to contact the County Council. Contact: Business Rates Team, NCC: 01670 624885Photograph: Acklington Village hall