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Government responds to consultation on changes to payment process for school business rates

The Government has released their response to the consultation on changes to the payment process of schools' business rates.

It confirms that the payment of school business rates will be centralised going forward. Essentially, this will involve the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) paying billing authorities directly on behalf of state-funded schools from April 2022. This will replace the current system in which schools typically receive funding in respect of their rates bill in their budgets, via the NFF, and pay business rates directly to billing authorities.

While there wont be any changes to schools' formal liability for ensuring business rates are paid, ESFA will pay any penalty charges for missed or late payments that are a result of ESFA error. This is a welcome change from the original proposals and mirrors what we pressed on in our formal response. However, schools will continue to be responsible for paying for penalty charges in instances where they are considered 'at fault', such as when a new school fails to inform their billing authority of their rateable value, or when an academy converter fails to inform their billing authority of their conversion. The government intends to adopt a similar approach with local authorities for community and voluntary controlled schools.

To ensure transparency, schools and local authorities will be given access to the new online business rates portal so they can access their data. This will allow schools to remain informed of their bill amount and when this has been paid, including any adjustments made and paid during the reconciliation window.

From 1 April 2022 the functionality for academies to submit historic claims for previously unclaimed years will be removed. Academies have until the end of March 2022 to submit any outstanding historic claims relating to the 2015/16 financial year onwards via the NNDR portal. From 1 April 2022, ESFA will no longer accept, process or reimburse academies for historic claims relating to unclaimed years.

For backdated adjustments which come to light after April 2022 and result in a decrease in rates bills, the responsibility to reclaim any overpayments rests with the liable party (ie. schools, or the local authority for community and voluntary controlled schools).

Where local authorities already offer discretionary relief to schools in relation to their business rates, or wish to do so in the future, this will continue.

To note: When the new system comes into force, ESFA will not be funding rates associated with buildings that are not being used to deliver education. They are therefore encouraging schools with multi-use sites to register buildings which are not used to deliver education for pupils at the school as a separate entity on the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) rating list. This will ensure that two individual bills are generated - one for the school (which will be paid by the ESFA) and one for any other buildings which are not used to deliver education for pupils at the school, which can then be settled by the appropriate ratepayer

Despite NAHT pressing in our response, the government has decided that maintained nursery schools are out of scope at the present time. However, they have suggested that they intend to explore the feasibility of extending the scheme to maintained nursery schools in the future, and will keep this under review.

Access the full details of the consultation response.

First published 23 August 2021

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NAHT Life focuses on helping retired members receive excellent trade union services and allows you to continue to play an active volunteer role within NAHT regions and branches, if that’s what you choose to do!

Please note to qualify for the benefits of NAHT Life membership you must join NAHT life within six months of retiring. 

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NAHT is currently reviewing, renewing and refreshing its services to support NAHT life member.

The Life Members' Sector Council (LMSC)

Whether leaving a labour of love or embracing a life of leisure, there can be no doubt that retirement from school leadership marks a huge change in lifestyle. There will be adjustments to make, new challenges to take and a range of new opportunities. At a time like this, it is important that our experienced members do not lose all the support they received in their working life. Our life members’ committee is here to ensure members are supported in retirement.

This committee feeds its extensive wealth of experience and know-how to support the work of NAHT. It also gives our life members the chance to make important contributions to our campaigns for working members.  

The committee, which meets four times a year, is made up of one elected representative from each of our regions, with the addition of one place each for Northern Ireland and Wales. And these elected committee members, normally, serve a three-year term.

Areas of focus for the committee include the following: 

  • Current legislation issues eg pension provision
  • Action against discrimination, including age discrimination.
LMSC chair

John Killeen: john.killeen@nahtofficials.org.uk

Committee servicing officer

Andy Walls has the responsibility for working closely with the LMSC as servicing officer. He can be contacted via email andy.walls@naht.org.uk or on 01444 472457.

For further details and contact information about all current LMSC members please check out ‘Who’s who’ and the ‘List of LMSC members'.
 

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