Consultation on charitable rates relief for schools and hospitals in Wales

The Welsh Government is seeking views on charitable rates relief for schools and hospitals in Wales. Responses should be sent to [email protected] and the deadline for submissions is 24 April 2020. CTG will be submitting a response so please complete the feedback box below or send thoughts to [email protected].

The consultation discusses the role of charitable relief in supporting schools and
hospitals, looking at the types of bodies which receive relief and whether it is
appropriate that some schools and hospitals receive charitable relief while others do
not. While the consultation is focused on charitable relief for private schools and hospitals, the Welsh Government would also like to hear views on other approaches which might help to ensure that charitable relief is targeted effectively.

Currently in Wales, charitable relief accounts for over £60 million of the Welsh Government support provided to help organisations with their non-domestic rates bills. Independent and private schools currently receive £1.4 million of charitable relief, while maintained and public sector schools receive £3.3 million of relief. For hospitals, private hospitals receive £540,000 of relief, while public sector hospitals receive £100,000.

The consultation notes that in Scotland, legislation is being introduced to restrict charitable business rates relief from mainstream independent schools from September 2020. No current changes to charity reliefs are planned in England but a review on business rates generally is expected. In Northern Ireland there has been a consultation on the future of business rates, with exemptions (including the charity exemption) within scope.

CTG responded to a call for evidence on the Scottish Non-Domestic Rates Bill highlighting concerns that removal of rates relief for mainstream independent schools in Scotland risks the creation of a two-tier status for charities with tax reliefs applicable only to the most “deserving charities”. The Scottish charity Regulator, OSCR, expressed similar concerns and it will be interesting to see how the Charity Commission for England and Wales responds to the consultation.

Consultation questions

Q1 What are your views on whether or not the following types of bodies should be eligible for charitable relief for?

  • Independent and private schools
  • Maintained and public sector schools
  • Private hospitals
  • Public hospitals

Q2 In your view, should private schools and hospitals which operate for the public benefit receive charitable relief or not? Please give reasons for your response.

Q3 What principles do you think should be used to define whether institutions are operating for public benefit?

Q4 Do you think the current eligibility criteria for charitable relief should be changed? If so, how?

Q5 Should there be different criteria for charitable relief for different types of institutions?

Q6 In your view, should particular types of schools or hospitals remain eligible for relief or not? Please give reasons for your response.

Q7 The Welsh Government would like your views on the possible effects that reforming charitable relief could have on the Welsh language, specifically on:

  • opportunities for people to use Welsh; and
  • on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than English.

Q8 Please also explain how you think charitable relief could be developed so as to have:

  • positive effects or increased positive effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language; and
  • no adverse effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably than the English language.

Q9 Do you have any other views on charitable relief in relation to Welsh language considerations?

Q10 What are your views on the possible impacts of changes to charitable relief on Children’s Rights?

Q11 What do you think the Welsh Government could do to address any impacts on Children’s Rights that might arise?

Q12 Are there other steps which you think could be taken to improve the fairness of charitable relief?

Tell us how you are affected