Harrogate Borough Council is one of the first local authorities in England to offer a reduction in business rates for nurseries.
The move could not have come at a better time for providers in Harrogate, as nurseries across England face a 26 percent upsurge in business rates according to research by business rent and rates specialists CVS.
Analysis of official Government data by CVS revealed that business rates will increase to £110.72m per year, leaving a total property tax bill for nurseries and pre-schools of £553.6m by 2022.
To qualify for a 50% reduction in business rates, providers in Harrogate must fulfill the following criteria:
- Provide care for 10 or more children under the age of eight
- Be open from at least 8am-5pm Monday to Friday
- Be Ofsted-registered
- Take childcare vouchers as payment
- Deliver the 30 hours of funded childcare
The action taken by Harrogate Borough Council followed lobbying by local childcare providers. It also comes in the wake of a renewed call from nurseries for the Government to follow Scotland’s example and make all providers exempt from business rates, which it introduced in April 2018.
Hocus Pocus Day Nursery in Bolton has started a petition for 100% business rate relief for childcare providers, which currently holds over 1,700 signatures.
A previous petition which was set up by a different nursery owner gathered a total of 5,853 signatures. The petition stopped in March as Parliamentary petitions are only open for six months in total and need at least 10,000 signatures for the Government to respond.
Owner of Sunflowers Day Nursery in Harrogate, Bruce Warnes said: “We are delighted that the council has taken our position on board and introduced a business rate relief of 50 percent that early years setting can apply for.
“Money saved on things like business rates is money that we can put towards keeping the level of quality and outcomes that our children deserve.
“I know this [lobbying] has been tried by providers in different areas without success so we are very fortunate.
“I’m actually not applying for this for my own setting this year, we are in a rural area and Harrogate Borough Council already recognise our really important role through some fairly generous rural reliefs, but I’m glad that taking a bit of collective action has helped others – there’s definitely a big potential benefit when we can work together. I’d urge anyone to get together and try this locally as well as supporting the national campaign for business rates relief.”
A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said: “We recognise the benefit to local communities of childcare providers which enable parents to work to support family life and the local economy.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this discretionary reduction in business rates which we hope will be of benefit to providers across the Harrogate district.”
NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: “This is good news and long awaited.
“NDNA has been lobbying for nurseries to receive business rates relief for a number of years now. We have had success in Scotland where nurseries are now exempt from paying business rates and in Wales, many more nurseries are being given rates relief.
“We hope that more local authorities in England will follow suit. NDNA highlighted in our annual survey report this month that business rates are a huge cost. We urged the Government to give full business rates relief to all nurseries so they would not have to pass this growing cost onto parents in the form of higher fees.”