Concerned by rate relief comments
I am concerned with the statement by Andrew Jones the district council’s deputy chief executive (Courier last week) saying that the council would not benefit from the extra income raised by the removal of the discretionary rate relief since he states that the money is passed to the government.
Agenda item 9 of the council’s executive committee meeting on December 22 2010 included a paper on the Discretionary Rate Relief review. This shows that in that financial year the discretionary rate relief was costing the council £133,361. One of the arguments presented for amending the relief was that it “allows large national charities with a local base to claim both mandatory and statutory relief. 75 per cent of the costs of the discretionary relief is met by the local council tax payer”. However, of the 56 organisations in Warwick district affected by raising the threshold to charities with rateable values over £5,000, only six organisations are national ones including Guide Dogs, British Red Cross, Action For Children and Helen Ley House.
The report goes on to state: “The savings that would be achieved will be included in the 2012-13 budget. It is currently estimated that... these should be in excess of £75,000”. These are real savings to the council so it is erroneous for Andrew Jones to claim that the monies raised will not benefit the council.
In fact the recent review of these cuts carried out by the council on March 20 shows that the savings are in fact £173,182.51 of which the district council’s savings are £99,135.91.
This is in effect a cut of £173,182 to the work of the local charity sector and £99,135.91 saving for the district council. Here at WAYC we have had to find an extra £5,000 and as a trustee of another charity running two community centres we have had to find an extra £3,500 a year just to keep going.
So, as an individual, I now have to help raise an additional £700 a month to pay these rates in order to provide services which greatly benefit the ratepayers of Warwick District Council. I am sure that the councillors did not have this in mind when they passed the original proposal.
I also note that one of the other recommendations in the report is that “officers continue and also explore other means of proactively encouraging organisations who do not currently qualify for mandatory rate relief to apply”.
I wonder if as much energy has gone into this as it has into cutting the discretionary rate relief. - William Clemmey, Chief Executive, Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs, Westlea Road, Leamington.
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