Inward investment discretionary rate relief
The principle of establishing an Enterprise Area at the Bath & West site was first proposed in the Mendip Economic Development Strategy, which was approved by Cabinet in January 2013, taking advantage of the provisions in the Localism Act 2011.
Further details of the approach were presented to Cabinet in October 2013 with the intention of providing business rate relief to new business investment/development for up to three years, subject to a cap of £55,000 per annum (in line with de-minimis state aid rules). (Note under de-minimis rules no business can receive more than €200,000 of any public support over a three year period. It is the duty of the recipient to declare the total of public support provided in any period.) Discretionary relief is also proposed for development in areas outside of the Enterprise Area by exception and subject to a compelling business case to secure the investment in Mendip. This could include consideration if there is a clear case that the development will safeguard local jobs. An application with supporting evidence will be required and will be subject to review and approval by Mendip's Business Rates Discretionary Rate Relief Panel. Mendip District Council has a discretionary power to extend business rate relief creating a competitive force to attract new business investment and growth, which will generate future income.
Applications would be handled through the same process as Mendip's existing discretionary rate relief policy, subject to potential for a "fast track" screening decision where an investment offer is to be made to an inward investment enquiry. All "offers" would, of course, be subject to commercial confidentiality rules on both parties.
A simple application form will be provided to potentially eligible business proposing investment. This will capture the eligibility evidence and will initially be reviewed by officers before confirming potential for consideration by the Discretionary Rate Relief Panel.
Rate relief will be provided after any mandatory or other discretionary rate relief has been awarded (i.e. small business rate relief, empty premises etc). These are part government funded.
Relief will only be given to the first business rate application on completion of the building to be occupied by the eligible investment. For example, if the ownership of the business changes within the period for which this relief has been granted, the relief will cease on the closure of the account from the original applicant. Also, if the business closes, the relief will cease at the same date.
Only one application (at the start of the claim) is required for the duration of the award. All applications must have been made within a period of 3 months from the date the business is notified of its initial rates liability by Mendip District Council. If so, the award will be backdated, effective from the start of that liability.