On 27th October 2016 Baroness Featherstone asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they will reverse their decision to end the business rate exemption for small solar panels from April 2017”. Baroness Featherstone said “I urge the Government to look at the impact on schools and parish councils, which will be devastating”. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, may I press the Minister a little further on the impact—perhaps, I am hoping, the unintended impact—of this decision on some small schools? Is it really intended that small schools should pay business rates, often after significant community fundraising to install solar panels to increase awareness among children and young people of climate-change issues?
Baroness Neville-Rolfe: We are looking at this, and, in particular, this change to microgeneration, which has had these anomalous effects. In the past, schools have been totally exempt; now, as I have said, the rate system is coming in and biting in a way that perhaps was not intended in the first place. We are looking seriously at the impacts against this background of some doing better out of the system than others. We look forward to making some progress in this area.