Business rates, also known as National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR), are the contributions made by businesses towards the costs of services provided by us. Business Rates collected by us are shared with the Government and the Fire and Rescue Authority.
The income we receive from Non Domestic Rates and other Government grants, along with local directly paid fees, rents, licences, and Council Tax, makes up our budget.
Who pays business rates
Business Rates are payable on most non-domestic properties such as shops, offices, warehouses, industrial units, advertising rights, land used for storage and other commercial purposes. In addition, any part of a property used for commercial rather than domestic purposes may be rateable (for example, a small office attached to a house). Rates are payable on most occupied and empty properties. Certain classes of property do not attract rates.
In the case of occupied property, the person or company occupying it is liable to pay the rate. Sometimes a landlord may charge an occupier a rent which is inclusive of rates. Even in these cases the occupier is still the person liable for payment, and the bill is sent in his/her name. If you have a business agreement with a third party (such as your landlord) to pay your rates you are still responsible for payment. Should we be required to take recovery action for non-payment of rates, then legal proceedings will be taken against you and not the third party.
Occupation means occupation by goods or stock. Your occupied rate charge will start on the date you move goods into the premises, not the date you open for business.
A person or company occupying a non-domestic property should pay full rates unless they qualify for any reliefs.
Unoccupied property - empty rates
Unless an exemption applies, the law states that the person entitled to possession of a property is liable to pay unoccupied business rates charges. The person entitled to possession will usually be the leaseholder or owner of the property.
Every 5 years, the Valuation Office Agency is required by law to re-value every business premises in the country.
The purpose of the revaluation is not to change the amount of money collected in rates nationally, but to make sure that the individual rateable values reflect the changes that have taken place in the property market since the last revaluation.
Depending on which rating list the Valuation Office is creating or amending, a different valuation date will be used. Please see the table below for clarification.
Period list is in force
|2017||1st April 2017 – 31st March 2022||1st April 2015|
|2010||1st April 2010 – 31st March 2017||1st April 2008|
|2005||1st April 2005 – 31st March 2010||1st April 2003|
|2000||1st April 2000 – 31st March 2005||1st April 1998|
|1995||1st April 1995 – 31st March 2000||1st April 1993|
|1990||1st April 1990 - 31st March 1995||1st April 1988|
Even though your rateable value may have increased, it does not necessarily mean that your bill will increase.The revaluation can often lead to large increases or decreases in rateable value as rental prices can often change in a 5-year period.
The amount of rates payable is dependant on the multipliers that the Government tells us to apply when calculating rates bills.
Even if the new rateable value of your property has resulted in a large increase in your bill, you may still get the benefit of a transitional adjustment, which may cushion the impact of the increase. You can read more about transitional adjustments in the Business Rate Relief page - see Supporting documents & links.
Your rateable value for the 5 year period commencing 1st April 2017 represents a professional assessment of the annual rent of a property, as if it was available to let on the open market as at 1st April 2015.
The Valuation Office gathers as much evidence as possible about actual rents paid for properties in order to determine appropriate rental values.
Changes to rateable value
The rateable value of a property may be changed for a number of reasons. Your premises may alter in size as a result of an extension or other alteration, the use of your premises may change or you may appeal against the assessment following a revaluation.
In addition, you may combine your premises with next door or you may split it into 2 or more units.
If you believe that your rateable value is too high or you have need to change the assessment of your property, you must contact the Valuation Office Agency.
Appeals - warning to all rate payers
We have recently been made aware that a company of agents are contacting ratepayers in our area and advising them that, for a fee, they can gain reductions in their rates.
However, there is no cost to putting in an appeal so if you are approached in this way, please contact us. We can give you details of how to make an appeal against the Rateable Value of your property yourself.
If you have signed any agreement, please do ensure you read it in full and, if necessary, gain legal advice. The contract may not only affect yourself, but future occupiers of the premises.
Business rates calculation
The rateable value of your property is not the amount you pay in business rates, but it is the basis for the calculation of your business rates bill.
The rates due from any property are calculated by multiplying your rateable value by a factor set by central government each year. This is known as the multiplier. The amount you pay would normally increase in line with the movement in the annual Retail Price Index.
There are 2 multipliers, for 2017/18, the:
- small business multiplier, applicable to those businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief, is set at 46.6p.
- standard multiplier, which includes the supplement to pay for Small Business Rate Relief, is set at 47.9p.
National non-domestic multipliers
- 1990/91 34.8p in the £
- 1991/92 38.6p in the £
- 1992/93 40.2p in the £
- 1993/94 41.6p in the £
- 1994/95 42.3p in the £
- 1995/96 43.2p in the £
- 1996/97 44.9p in the £
- 1997/98 45.8p in the £
- 1998/99 47.4p in the £
- 1999/00 48.9p in the £
- 2000/01 41.6p in the £
- 2001/02 43.0p in the £
- 2002/03 43.7p in the £
- 2003/04 44.4p in the £
- 2004/05 45.6p in the £
- 2005/06 42.2p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 41.5p in the £)
- 2006/07 43.3p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 42.6p in the £)
- 2007/08 44.4p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 44.1p in the £)
- 2008/09 46.2p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 45.8p in the £)
- 2009/10 48.5p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 48.1p in the £)
- 2010/11 41.4p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 40.7p in the £)
- 2011/12 43.3p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 42.6p in the £)
- 2012/13 45.8p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 45.0p in the £)
- 2013/14 47.1p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 46.2p in the £)
- 2014/15 48.2p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 47.1p in the £)
- 2015/16 49.3p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 48.0p in the £)
- 2016/17 49.7p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 48.4p in the £)
- 2017/18 47.9p in the £ (small business rate multiplier 46.6p in the £)
Problems paying your business rates
Your business rates bill is normally payable in 10 monthly instalments with the last instalment in January. The due date by which you must pay each of your instalments is shown on your bill, but is usually the 1st of the month.
If you have a change in your circumstances, it may affect the number of instalments you can be given in which to pay your bill. You must pay your business rates bill on or before the due date shown on your bill. If you do not do so, we will take recovery action against you.
If you have difficulty paying your bill, we may be able to help you by making a more suitable payment arrangement. It is also possible that you may be entitled to a reduction in Business Rates. Please contact us to discuss an arrangement or for more information.
Payment recovery process
You are required by law to pay your business rates instalments on time and we are required by law to make sure these payments are made. The first time that you fail to pay an instalment on time, we will send you a reminder asking you to bring your account up to date within 7 days. Sending a reminder notice means that we can take court action against you if your account is not brought up to date and maintained.
Unable to pay
If you are unable to make payment immediately, call our staff to discuss any financial problems that you may have and in many cases we are able to agree alternative payment arrangements. If you think you have already paid the amount on the reminder, please do not ignore this notice and please contact us.
If you fail to make contact and don't bring your account up to date, we will not issue any further reminders. You will lose your right to pay by instalments and we will take court action against you.
If you pay the amount required by the reminder notice, and you are late with your payments again, you will be issued with a final notice. This means that you have lost your right to pay by instalments and the remainder of your full yearly amount becomes due and payable. If you do not pay in full, we will take court action against you.
If you receive a summons, you must pay the amount shown on the summons (including the court costs) if you are able to do so. If you are unable to pay the amount shown on the summons, or you think the summons is wrong, you should contact us immediately to discuss your account. We will be able to advise you on the best course of action and may be able to make a payment arrangement.
If you have not paid the amount shown on the summons including costs, or you have not agreed a payment arrangement with us, we will take further recovery action.
If you fail to contact us your case will be presented to the magistrates on the hearing date shown on the summons. We will ask the magistrates to grant a Liability Order whether you attend or not, and this will incur further costs.
The reason for the court hearing will be to determine that you are liable and you have not paid your bill as requested. If the magistrate agrees with us that you are liable for the charge, that we have issued your bill correctly, and that you have not paid they will grant us a Liability Order.
You do not need to attend the Magistrates Court if you do not wish to do so, but there will be Business Rates staff in attendance should you wish to make an arrangement to pay. If you wish to attend, you will have the opportunity to offer your defence for non-payment.
After the court hearing date we will send you a notice informing you that the magistrates have granted us a Liability Order.
Methods of recovery
In some circumstances we may decide to send an enforcement agent to visit you. The enforcement agent may either accept payment in full from you or make a payment arrangement. Alternatively, the agent may value the goods in your premises - if they believe that your goods could be sold at auction to reduce the debt they may decide to take control of goods. There will be additional costs involved with this process.
If you owe more than £1000 and an enforcement agent has previously visited your business it is now possible that you will be served with a Statutory Demand. This document should not be ignored as it may lead to a bankruptcy petition and further substantial costs may be added to your debt. Your assets are at immediate risk if this happens.
If you own your business premises and are intending to sell this property, we may seek your agreement to obtaining a charge over it. This means that you agree that we will be paid any rates owed from the proceeds of the sale of your property. We will not attempt to recover any amount due which is covered by the agreement for a specified period. This period cannot be more than three years. Any amounts covered by the agreement may be subject to interest charges.
If you receive any notice from us regarding the non-payment of your business rates please do not ignore it as this may mean that further action will be taken against you, with additional costs being incurred. Please contact us immediately to discuss ways of settling your debt.
Cost of recovery action
Any recovery costs will be added to your rate account. This is so that the costs of recovery are not shared by those who pay their business rates on time.
Reminder & final notice
There are no costs for receiving a reminder or final notice.
If you are summonsed to the Magistrates Court the cost is £57.
We will obtain a Liability Order on the hearing day. This costs £35.
New regulations came into force on 6th April 2014 that replaced previous legislation in relation to 'bailiffs'. Key changes are:
- Bailiffs are now Enforcement Agents (EA)
- Bailiff companies are now EA companies
- The Levy process (levy and distress) is now Taking Control of Goods
- Walking possession is now called Controlled Goods Agreement
The Taking of Goods (Fees) Regulations 2014 also introduced new levels of fees that can be charged by enforcement agents in the recovery of Business Rates (and Council Tax) debt.
These are charged in 3 stages:
Enforcement Stage 1: Compliance Fee
A cost of £75 is charged for each liability order we pass to the enforcement agent.
If you have multiple debts outstanding for your current or previous address for which several liability orders have been issued, which are referred to enforcement agents this will result in significant amounts of costs being added to the amount you owe.
Enforcement Stage 2: Enforcement Fee
A further cost of £235 plus 7.5% of any debt above £1,500 is added to the amount you owe once the enforcement agent visits your property.
Enforcement Stage 3: Sale or Disposal Fee
A further cost of £110 plus another 7.5% fee of any debt outstanding above £1,500 is added to the amount you owe, together with any sale or disbursement costs.
An example of how fees can add up
If 4 liability orders are referred this will result in £300 (4x£75) being added to the amount you owe immediately.
Where agreement cannot be reached at the compliance stage and liability orders are moved to the enforcement stage a further £235 will be added to the debt owed.
Where this amount is over £1,500 a further 7.5% of the amount over £1,500 will be added to the amount owed. If the amount was £3,000 this would be a further £112.50.
Where goods have to be sold or disposed of, £110 will be added to the debt owed and if as in the example above the amount owed was £3,000 another £112.50 would be added.
In this example the additional amount to be paid to the enforcement agents in costs would be £870.
Bankruptcy & insolvency proceedings
An empty property is exempt if:
- a bankruptcy order is in place
- a trustee has been appointed under a deed of arrangement
- a company is subject to a winding up order
- in some cases, where a liquidator has been appointed
If you are subject to insolvency proceedings, and are paying Rates, empty or occupied, you should contact your appointed Insolvency Practitioner for further details of how to proceed. If you think your property should be exempt, please contact us.
Business rate exemptions
Occupied properties exempt
The type and use of some occupied properties mean that they are exempt from paying Business Rates. A property that is exempt may not have a Rateable Value as the Valuation Office Agency does not have to legally give them a value for Rates. Such properties will not be included in the Valuation List, and we will not charge any Rates on them, whether they are being used or not.
The most common exemptions from rating are:
- agricultural land and buildings
- fish farms
- places of public religious worship
- sewers and property of drainage properties
- public parks
- non-domestic buildings for use by those with disabilities
- non-domestic buildings or parts of non-domestic buildings, which cater for the needs of people with learning disabilities
If you think you have been charged Rates on a property such as this, the property will need to be re-assessed by the Valuation Office Agency. Whilst we have no power to remove a property from the Rating List, you can contact the Valuation Office Agency. Even if your property is not exempt from rating, you may still qualify for rate relief.
Unoccupied properties exempt
In general, property that has just become empty will be allowed an exemption from business rates for the first 3 months (6 months for industrial properties). If the property changes ownership during this time, the new owner or leaseholder will only be allowed the remainder of the exempt period.
The empty rate charge starts three months after the date the property first became empty and is charged to the person who has the interest in the property. If the property changes ownership after the first three months and is still empty, the new owner or leaseholder will not receive an exempt period.
Some empty properties are allowed a permanent exemption. Currently, these are where:
- the ratepayer is a charity, and it appears that when next in use the property will be occupied by a charity and used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes
- the ratepayer is a registered Community Amateur Sports Club, and it appears that when next in use the property will be occupied by a registered club and will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of the club
- the property is one which is listed or is an ancient or historical monument
- occupation of the property is prohibited by us or the government
- the property has a rateable value of less than £2,600
- the owner is insolvent and is either bankrupt or subject to a winding-up order
- the owner is entitled to possession only as a liquidator, a trustee under a deed of arrangement or as the personal representative of a deceased person
- the hereditament comprises wholly of land, or land with ancillary buildings, and does not constitute a relevant unoccupied hereditament
If you think your property should be exempt, please contact us.
Properties that have been constructed or adapted for use for manufacturing, repairing or adapting goods or materials, storage, working or processing of materials and generation of electricity will generally be exempt from empty Rates for any period prior to 1st April 2008. This exemption will apply to premises such as warehouses, factories, industrial units and stores.
As a general rule, we will use the property description that the Valuation Officer gives your property when it is valued as a guide to whether the property should be exempt. However, this is not binding on us and there may be cases where we grant or refuse exemptions and don’t take the description into account.
Vacant industrial properties will be exempt from an empty rate charge for up to six months from the date they became empty. At the end of the 6 month period, empty rates become payable at the full rate for the property.
Small rateable value exemption
Unoccupied properties below a certain rateable value will not pay empty rates.
Depending on which Rating List we are billing you on, the level of rateable value differs:
|Rating List||Period exemption is in force||Minimum rateable value|
|2010||1st April 2011 - 31st March 2015||£2,600|
|2010||1st April 2010 - 31st March 2011||£18,000|
|2005||1st April 2009 - 31st March 2010||£15,000|
|2005||1st April 2005 - 31st March 2009||£2,200|
|2000||1st April 2000 - 31st March 2005||£1,900|
|1995||1st April 1995 - 31st March 2000||£1,500|
|1990||1st April 1990 - 31st March 1995||£1,000|
If you think your property should be exempt, please contact us.
Vacant due to Crown action
Property kept vacant due to action by the crown or ourselves. This would generally cover instances such as a compulsory purchase scheme.
Listed building or ancient monuments
Buildings which are listed are protected by law. All unoccupied listed buildings are exempt from Business Rates. Ancient and historical monuments are also exempt.
Deceased persons estate
Personal representatives of a deceased person. If an empty property is owned by a deceased person’s estate, then it is exempt.
If you think your property should be exempt, please contact us.
Business rates complaints
As a first step we would ask you to discuss your complaint with a member of our Business Rates team. You can contact us by telephone on 0114 273 4318. If you remain dissatisfied you should contact the Complaints Officer either by email or in writing. The officer will normally send you a full written response within 28 days of receiving your complaint.
If you are unhappy with response you receive from the Complaints Officer, you can write to:
Revenues & Benefits Client Team, Level 8, Moorfoot , Sheffield S1 4PL
You should normally expect to receive a full written response within 28 days of your complaint being received.
As a final step you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) The LGO is an independent body who investigates complaints about councils. You can complain to the LGO at any time, however they will usually only consider your complaint after it has been looked at under our complaints procedure.