In order to be able to fully consider whether exemption applies sufficient facts are needed in order to test whether the requirements as per the legislation are met.
The following is a list of facts which ought to be established (in writing because it may be necessary to present this information at VT/LT in evidence). The list is not exhaustive.
a) Are the persons using the hereditament or directly benefiting from services provided from the hereditament “ill” or “disabled” as defined in para 16(2)?
If not, then exemption does not apply.
Information should be sought regarding:
● who the clients are generally (note that because of the confidentiality of clients’ records this information must be general and not specific)
● what illnesses and/or disabilities they have (note that because of the confidentiality of clients’ records this information must be general and not specific)
● the selection criteria for persons attending the facility – for example, they may be referred by GPs, there may be a minimum age limit, they may be referred by social services etc
b) Who is the rateable occupier of the hereditament?
This may be a local authority, NHS Trust joint venture, or private company. Most facilities provided by NHS Trusts will provide treatment and will therefore not be exempt.
c) Under what statute is the facility provided?
When considering exemption under para 16(1)(b) – provision of welfare services – only facilities which could be provided under the National Assistance Act 1948 (as amended) are exempt. Therefore, the authorising statute needs to be identified.
Every publicly funded facility will be authorised by statute. Private facilities will be licensed under a statutory provision. Identification of the relevant statute is important since this will determine exemption.
d. What is the stated purpose of the facility?
This information will assist in deciding which provision of paragraph 16 may apply.
● Is it a day centre for the elderly, elderly disabled, a respite centre, an assessment centre, a training centre, an assisted daily living centre?
● Are there any residential facilities? If so, is the residential facility essential to the purpose and what is the average length of stay?
● Is the intention to improve clients’ health or prevent deterioration, or assess future care needs?
● If administrative offices are they the ‘operational hub’ of a local authority or other body providing a qualifying service within 16(1)(a) or (b)?
● Usually there is a policy document or brochure which sets out the purpose of the facility, how this is to be achieved, eligibility criteria, what the referral process is etc. A copy should be requested as this will often contain much of the information required.
● Are any persons using the facility under the age of 18.
e. What actually goes on at the facility?
Again, this information will assist in deciding which provision of paragraph 16 may apply. How do those who attend the facility spend their time?
● Are there any classes provided (keep fit, craft work, music therapy, anger management, assistance with life skills etc). If so, this may indicate a treatment purpose rather than a welfare or training purpose.
● Do clients read, watch TV, chat, play games etc according to their individual preference? (If so, this may indicate the facility is not a training facility but may be ‘keeping suitably occupied’).
● Are activities supervised/guided by staff at the facility? This may indicate training or therapy.
● Do clients receive any physiotherapy, occupational therapy, counselling etc whilst at the facility? This will indicate treatment.
● Are clients’ abilities and needs for further assistance assessed at the facility?
● Is medication administered at the facility, and if so, what is the nature and purpose of that medication?
● If admin offices, what services are administered? Is the office wholly used for such services? Offices used for fund raising or part of the Finance department of a local authority will not be exempt.
f. Staff at the facility
● Are there clinical staff at the facility – doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychiatric social workers etc?
● If so, how many and/or how often do they attend at the facility?
● What are their professional qualifications? eg SRN.
● What proportion of the whole staff do these medical/quasi-medical staff constitute?
g. What is the regime?
An overall understanding of how the facility operates, including an understanding of what sequence of events might take place throughout the period during which a client uses the facility helps to set the property into a wider context.
● How frequently do clients attend (eg. every day, one day a week etc)?
● Do they attend indefinitely or for a fixed number of weeks?
● How many attend at one time?
● Are clients likely to re-attend at a later date? (eg. as an outpatient)?
h. Use of the property
Only accommodation used for an exempt purpose will qualify under paragraph 16.
Consequently, if there is any doubt that the whole or part is exempt/not exempt, a room by room note should be made of the use and marked on a layout plan.
All relevant facts as to the use and operation of the hereditament and the activities involved need to be established by reference to the material day. Sometimes the VO may have only limited information, but in the case of an appeal before the Valuation Tribunal this can be augmented by way of directions from the Tribunal at a pre hearing review, and by the use of powers of discovery in the Lands Tribunal.
If rooms are in dual use then a note should be made of the uses during each day or how they vary from day to day.