Rate relief for charity shops in Ipswich is more than £500,000 a year

Ipswich town centre

Ipswich town centre - Credit: Su Anderson

Ipswich Borough Council is losing out on more than half a million pounds of business rates because of the mandatory rate relief it gives charities.

Any registered charity has to be given an 80% discount on its rates by the collecting authority, in this case the borough council (IBC).

A Freedom of Information request in September revealed the actual rateable value of properties and business units occupied by groups with charitable status where the valuation description includes the word shop.

The figures range from £2,400 to £42,250 a year.

Among the groups benefiting from the relief are charity shops, schools and community centres.

When the relief given to the 42 businesses is added up it comes to more than £525,000 a year, with the actual rate paid being around £130,000.

An IBC spokesman said: “We support the valuable work done by different charities through their shops in Ipswich and seek, with our partners, to encourage a diverse range of retailers in the town centre.

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“We had the announcement that Jack Wills plans to move into Tavern Street and the news that The Saints had won a top retailing award.

“Also, we have welcomed Tiger and Pandora setting up business here.”

A spokesman for the Charity Retail Association (CRA) said claims of there being too many charity shops in high streets was a myth.

They said less than 4% of retail units in the UK were charity shops.

“While charity shops receive 80% business rate relief the additional 20% is awarded at the discretion of each individual council and just one in seven charity shops receive this,” the spokesman said.

“The British Retail Council (BRC) estimates there are 287,100 retail units total while the CRA estimates there are 10,000 charity shops in the UK.

“Research out on October 1 from the Charity Finance Shops Survey shows the numbers of charity shops has risen by just 1.7% this year and the increase is slower than in previous years.

“With an estimated 21,975 empty shops in the top 650 town centres and just 10,000 charity shops in the UK it is clear that there are more than enough properties to go around.”

The spokesman added it was in the interest of the association and the shops it represents to have health high streets right across the country because it would increase custom.

They added for every £1 given in rate relief around £4.46 is generated for charitable spending.