It might seem daft, but public toilets are liable for business rates (officially called Non-domestic Rates NDR), even though they are not something I would call a businesses, more of a service. Cornwall Council has previously lobbied Central Government over the unfair burden of charging business rates on public toilets. No matter if they are run by a Town and Parish Council, a community group, or Cornwall Council.
The good news is the Government has tweaked the legislation and will give local council’s the powers to award discretionary relief from April 2018 under the Local Government Finance Bill. I welcome this.
However, there is a sting in tail. On one hand the Government allows Cornwall Council not to levy this charge, but it will be the local authority who have to pick up funding shortfall in funding.
Applying these powers to the public toilets that are the responsibility of Town and Parish Councils in Cornwall would create a £156,000 funding shortfall for the Council. If the powers were applied to all public toilets in Cornwall, the shortfall would increase to around £250,000. That’s a lot of money to lose. I believe the Government should compensate local authorities for any such funding shortfall. It has done previously with other business rate relief measures.
In the past, Cornwall Council collected business rates and sent them to the Government, who in turn gave the Council a percentage back. Then, we collected and kept part of the NDR with the rest going to the Government. Now the Council keeps all, but gets no grant from the Government.