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Religious Buildings: Business Rates

Question for Treasury

UIN 171474, tabled on 22 March 2023

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the Valuation Office Agency's requirements for signage in designating places of worship.

Answered on

28 March 2023

Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 sets out what conditions must be met for a religious building to be exempt from business rates. The main requirements are that the building should be a place of public religious worship which either belongs to the Church of England, the Church in Wales, or is certified as a place of religious worship by the General Register Office. It must also be used for the conduct of public religious worship.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) recognises that not all places of public religious worship will be in buildings that have traditionally been considered places of worship, such as purpose-built churches, temples, or chapels. The assessment of whether a property is used for the conduct of public religious worship is considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the facts. This includes consideration of any signage that is in place inviting public worship.

Should a ratepayer be unhappy with the VOA’s assessment of their property, they can formally challenge the decision through the Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) process.

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