Belfast Telegraph

Thousands of firms hauled into the courts for missing business rates payments

High business rates bills are causing firms to fall into arrears on payments.

Thousands of businesses have been hauled before the courts because they are unable to keep up with their rate payments.

Figures from real estate adviser Altus Group have found nearly 200,000 businesses were hauled in front of a magistrate for not paying their business rates in 2017-18.

The real estate adviser said the figures fuelled claims that the system is criminalising firms struggling to cope with the ever increasing tax burden.

Business rates were re-evaluated by the government last year, with some firms facing steep tax rises as a result of the changes.

Several businesses have blamed the property tax for an increase in distress on the UK high street.

London restaurant chain Hummus Bros, which recently fell into administration, said “business rates going up ever higher” had caused problems for the firm.

Consumer businesses have also been hit by rising costs from the national living wage, and a decline in the value sterling, which has pushed up prices on imported goods.

The Government did set aside £3.4 billion to hand to businesses facing the most dramatic rate hikes. However, this transitional relief was paid for by denying rate cuts to other firms.

Poundworld was one of a number of companies denied a cut to its business rates due to the transitional relief system. It was due a £4.1 million tax cut from the revaluation.

The figures come after data from the Press Association revealed a colossal 50,000 jobs have been axed in the first half of the year as retail workers bore the brunt of hundreds of store closures.

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