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Golf’s Business Rates Refunds of £20,000 to £60,000 (or more)

9.48am 5th June 2020 - Opinion - This story was updated on Monday, June 8th, 2020

Clearly, we are in unusual times with the coronavirus pandemic. All golf venues have been given a business rates holiday this year (from 1 April), and as matters currently stand, venues will revert to their normal liability from April next year, writes UK golf property specialist, Mark Smith of Smith Leisure

In addition to the rates holiday, grants have also been made available to those venues with Rateable Values below the £51,000 threshold: with the grant being £25,000 or £10,000; plus, there is a further discretionary grant fund of up to £25,000 per venue. For grant eligibility criteria, it will come as no surprise that ‘the devil is in the detail’, and it would be impossible to cover all the specific scenarios in a few paragraphs. If anyone needs any further information or advice regarding their specific circumstances, then please do get in touch with either Simon Reay-Jones or me (contact details below).

An important area that many in the industry are still overlooking is that their venue’s Rateable Value may simply be too high in the first place – meaning that some are still not waking up the to the fact that there are genuine opportunities to save several tens of thousands of pounds.

A golf venue’s current Rateable Value is meant to represent its open market rental value as at April 2015; and in March this year, I settled several ‘test cases’ against the Valuation Office Agency on the valuation basis to be adopted for golf venues for the statutory 2017 Rating List. I worked in collaboration with Colliers Rating (part of the global real estate advisers, and specialists in the nuances and complexities of business rates procedure, law, and valuation principles).

Two of the cases I settled were in Hampshire. They were for Brokenhurst Manor GC and Romsey GC, and in each case I got the Rateable Value reduced by around 30% which reduced each clubs’ business rates liability by several tens of thousands of pounds over the five year period to 31 March 2022 – and this is on top of the rates holiday for this year.

Romsey Golf Club: Rateable Value reduced by 34%

Yesterday, I settled another case on an 18-hole club where the five year saving is going to be £63,500 – so this is something that venues might like to consider closely. Indeed, the rates rebates are usually welcome bonuses to my golf venue clients. For the previous 2010 Rating List, I recall one client buying a brand new greens mower with the refund and another reporting that their refund (in this case around £200,000) ‘got them through the winter’ when their trading cashflow position was in dire straits.

The time is therefore right for golf venues to be looking very closely at this area, and if anyone is interested in discussing their circumstances with us, we would be delighted to help.

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