William Eichler 09 April 2018

Charity shops face business rates relief ‘postcode lottery’

Charity shops are ‘falling victim’ to inconsistent and unfair policies on business rates relief and waste management, charity representatives say.

A new report from the Charity Retail Association has revealed ‘huge variances’ across Britain in the support councils offer to charity shops.

The trade association surveyed 400 local authorities and found a quarter do not know how many charity shops they have in their area.

They also discovered the criteria by which councils choose to allocate additional rates relief is often ‘hidden’ or ‘unclear’.

Nearly a quarter choose to grant additional rate relief to charity shops on an individual basis, the research found. These often rely on personal relationships.

The Charity Retail Association, which represents 80% of the UK’s charity shops, found that Scotland was far more likely to give charity shops a good deal than those in England and Wales.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of local authorities in Scotland allow charity shops to dispose of any donations they are unable to sell, while only 46% of local authorities in Wales and 54% in England do the same.

‘Our extensive new report highlights the bizarre situation where charity shops from the same chain, delivering exactly the same services and performing in exactly the same way, can get a completely different package of support in terms of rate relief and waste disposal charges simply because they are located on different sides of an authority boundary,’ said Robin Osterley, the chief executive of the Charity Retail Association.

‘That’s why we are calling on local authorities to be mindful of their responsibilities to accept household waste coming from charity shops, and to be generous to charity shops when it comes to offering discretionary rate relief.

‘We don’t believe the current system offers consistent, transparent or fair support to shops across the country. And we are also calling for all local authorities to publish set criteria against which they will award discretionary rate relief.’

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