Local government finance circular 4/2022 - non-domestic rates relief: guidance

This circular provides general information relating to current arrangements for non-domestic rates reliefs in 2022 to 2023. It also provides examples of supporting documentary evidence. The information was compiled with the involvement of officers from COSLA and the IRRV.

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General Information

34. Determination of each relief by the council is generally based on an application from the rateable occupier (for some reliefs an application is statutorily required). Recurrent annual applications are not necessarily required, but in some cases statutorily are; for example, councils may choose to align a reapplication cycle with the revaluation cycle.

35. To determine the amount of relief to be awarded, local authorities should take steps as they see fit to ensure they have complete, accurate and up-to-date information on all properties occupied by the applicant in Scotland, i.e. across all local authority areas. Application is made to each local authority in whose area the property for which relief is sought is located, and separate application made for each relief. Applicants should provide details of all non-domestic properties in Scotland which they own, lease or are entitled to occupy, regardless of whether they are occupied or vacant.

36. The applicant must be listed as the property's rateable occupier in the council's assessment roll, or authorised to apply on behalf of the rateable occupier.

37. An application for a relief to which subsidy control rules apply must include a declaration of all other public assistance received as TCA MFA (see Subsidy Control section above). The local authority should consider undertaking due diligence. Any application not providing correct information may be considered fraudulent, in which case appropriate action may be taken against the applicant.

38. For some reliefs, such as Empty Property Relief or Charity Relief, the council may require the applicant to supply additional documentary evidence in support of their application. Examples of documentary evidence required in support of applications for certain reliefs are at Annex B. A council may decide that a single letter, e.g. from a surveyor, agent, regulator or law-enforcement organisation, on its own is not sufficient evidence.

39. A completed application form signed and dated by the rateable occupier is necessary for the local authority to begin its consideration. Local authorities may accept applications by email, and this is to be encouraged.

40. Rates bills to ratepayers should include a list of the reliefs the property is in receipt of.

41. Relief applications relating to utilities valued under the designated Assessors' regime[5] should be passed to the relevant billing authority as follows:

  • electricity – South Lanarkshire Council
  • water – Fife Council
  • gas – West Dunbartonshire Council
  • docks and harbours – Falkirk Council
  • railways – Highland Council
  • canals – Highland Council
  • fixed-line telecommunications – Renfrewshire Council

42. Some reliefs are mandatory, i.e. if the applicant is deemed eligible then the relief must be awarded.

43. Some reliefs are discretionary, i.e. if the applicant is deemed eligible then the relief may be awarded.

44. Funding arrangements for reliefs between local authorities and the Scottish Government are set out in The Non-Domestic Rating Contributions (Scotland) Regulations 1996. The cost of discretionary reliefs is generally 75% funded by the Scottish Government and 25% by the awarding council, except for 100% discretionary sports clubs relief, which is fully funded by the Scottish Government. The discretionary reliefs are:

  • Charity Relief 'top-up' of up to 20% for OSCR-registered charities;[6]
  • Charity Relief of up to 100% for certain other not-for-profit organisations;[7]
  • Sports Club Relief 'top-up' of up to 80% for HMRC-registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs);[8]
  • Sports Club Relief of up to 100% for certain other not-for-profit organisations;[9]
  • elements of Rural Relief;
  • Hardship Relief; and
  • Stud Farms Relief.

45. Local reliefs[10] are fully funded by the Council.

46. Any reduction in rates due to an apportionment carried out by the assessor under section 24A(1) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966 (for short-term unoccupied properties at the request of the council) is fully funded by the Scottish Government.



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