On 29 March 2019, CHIA WA made a submission to the Review of the Local Government Act, WA, regarding the issue of rates exemptions for land in charitable use.
The Local Government Act (the Act) currently provides that all land is rateable unless it is listed as exempt. Land used exclusively for charitable purposes is exempt from rates. All but one of CHIA WA’s members is a registered charity.
The meaning of “land used exclusively for charitable purposes” is not defined in the Act. This lack of clarity has not been to the benefit of either community housing providers or local authorities, as much time and resource is lost in contesting whether exemptions are due or not.
CHIA WA’s key recommendations are set out as follows:
Whatever the outcome of the review, CHIA WA supports the need for clear definitions setting out when rates exemptions/minimum payments are due to community housing providers and CHIA WA would be happy to assist in working out the detail of those definitions.
Such clarity will, hopefully, result in consistency of approach from all local authorities. The current regime is applied differentially across local government, which creates uncertainty for our members. CHIA WA supports a clear and consistent approach to the issue of rates exemptions.
CHIA WA’s position is that the loss of rates exemptions for charitable community housing providers will significantly reduce the amount of money available to our members to provide low cost housing and support services to those in most in need in WA. If rates exemptions are lost, other parts of government will need to step in and fund these services or, as is more likely the in the current fiscal climate, these services will be lost.
For this reason, CHIA WA seeks the retention of the rates exemption for charitable community housing providers.
The full submission can be read here.