Rochdale News | News headlines | Reuse Littleborough could be forced to close as the council slaps the group with thousands of pounds in backdated commercial rates, despite being granted 100% discretionary relief three years ago.

Publication date: 05 July 2022

Reuse Littleborough could be forced to close, after the council imposed thousands of pounds on it in backdated commercial rates.

When Reuse first opened its center in downtown Littleborough in 2018, Rochdale City Council gave 100% discretionary relief to the local cause.

This continued for the next three years until 2021, when the non-profit group received a £4,400 bill for that year and was told they had to pay the previous three years’ fees. With the opening of its resource center in Newgate, payment fees are said to apply to both locations.

Business fees are charged on most non-domestic properties, such as shops and offices, with a taxable value in excess of £12,000.

Some properties are eligible for discounts from the local council on their business rates, called a business rate reduction. This can be in the form of small business fee relief, charitable fee relief, or hardship relief.

Charities can apply for a charity rate reduction of up to 80% if a property is used for charity; councils can increase this up to 100% as discretionary compensation.

Councils have the power to grant discretionary relief to non-profits or voluntary organizations, or even reduce the bill with hardship relief, as long as you can convince the local authority that you would be in financial hardship without it and that receiving hardship relief economic difficulties is of interest. of local residents.

The Reuse Littleborough Hub exists to provide a green solution to stop people from throwing away perfectly usable items. The group was originally started seven years ago after Michael Bamford noticed a discrepancy between the waste we have in our country and what is needed in poorer countries. He started with an online post, asking for donations of unwanted baby items to be sent to the Forever Angels Baby Home in Tanzania.

However, now that the council is demanding thousands of pounds in retrospective business rates from Reuse Littleborough, the case may be forced to close, despite ironically providing aid to many council support workers and employees who have had their or he completely eliminated his budget.

The parent-child resource center opened in June 2020, allowing social workers, health visitors, midwives and many others who identified a need in local families to visit the center and pick up products on a first-come, first-served basis for Your clients. .

Support workers were provided with goods such as: baby and children’s clothing; Shoes; toiletries; cribs, strollers, bassinets and bedding; toiletry bags for maternity units; clothing, shoes, coats, and bedding for older children; clothing and footwear for adults.

Reuse Littleborough founder Michael Bamford, 70, said he is “very frustrated” about the matter.

He said: “We are in the process of closing our resource center in Newgate as things have not gone to plan.

“Our fee bill for this is £7,900 because we’re not open to the public and we don’t sell anything, we don’t qualify for the discount.

“As we help needy families identified by council support workers, it’s just a kick in the teeth, we never ask anyone for money, we don’t apply for grants, we’re run by volunteers and we don’t pay salaries.

“Our center is a vital resource for council employees whose budgets have been cut or eliminated. An example is a mother fleeing domestic violence; she was equipped with everything needed in a new home.”

reuse littleborough
reuse littleborough

Reuse Littleborough once again applied for charity status, having been turned down a few years ago.

“With regard to our center in Littleborough, when we received the bill for £4,400, we questioned it because we had had three years of discretionary relief. When we questioned this, the new officer said that the previous lady did not have the authority to grant this and now they have rolled back our fees for the three years. Obviously, we haven’t budgeted for this.”

Michael continued: “Our application for charity status has been sitting in a pile awaiting review for almost six months. We were promised a decision by the end of March, but we are still waiting.

“I am so tempted to pack it all up. I am 70 years old; I just had hernia surgery and recently lost my partner, Ann, to cancer. Packing everything up and moving on with my life is tempting, but I feel like a lot of needy families with babies and children will miss out.

“We share space in the Better Together building with many other charities who seem to get charity status and council grants very easily. I am finding all of this very frustrating, especially with the lack of quality volunteers showing up to help.”

Councilor Carol Wardle, Rochdale Borough Council Finance Cabinet Member, said: “While we are keen to continue to support Reuse Littleborough, business fees are a statutory charge over which councils have very little control.

“They were getting relief on business fees as they told us they were a registered charity, but we later found out they weren’t, so they didn’t qualify for this support.

“Its Littleborough facility has received relevant Covid-related relief and discounts, including 50 per cent relief for retail, hospitality and leisure for the current fiscal year.

“The council has also helped them register as a charity and looked at whether any further support can be provided, but as Reuse Littleborough is not a registered charity or registered community interest business and has not provided evidence that they are operating in a non-for-profit, we cannot provide further financial assistance.”

In response to Councilor Wardle, Michael added: “No one on council has helped us move forward as a charity or asked us for evidence that we are not for profit. We have never said that we are a registered charity.

“The center gets a 50% discount from the central government, but Newgate doesn’t get any discount.”

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