NHS trusts want same business rates as private hospitals

NHS trusts are taking councils to court over business rates, arguing for the same treatment as charitable private hospitals. 

Public sector institutions are required to pay business rates on their buildings, however, private hospitals have the option of registering for charitable status, meaning they would pay just 20% of the rate. 

The High Court challenge is set to be heard on 4 November, as 17 NHS trusts look to cut their business rates by 80%. 

This financial year, hospitals such as the Royal London Hospital will pay £9.2m in business rates whilst the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and Bristol’s Southmead Hospital will pay £7.2m and £6m respectively.

In 2017, research by the Altus Group estimated that 27% of private hospitals such as Nuffield Health are registered as charities and save around £52m a year as a result. 

The group also states that, if the court challenge is successful, tax rebates for mandatory relief will be backdated to 1 April 2010, costing councils and the government around £2.4bn.