Belfast Telegraph

Many retailers expected to face lower rates following revaluation exercise

However, some hotels may experience a hike in their business rate bills following a revaluation of 74,000 non-domestic properties in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s Land and Property Service has released draft valuations of 74,000 businesses in Northern Ireland following a revaluation exercise (PA)
Northern Ireland’s Land and Property Service has released draft valuations of 74,000 businesses in Northern Ireland following a revaluation exercise (PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

Many retailers could be set for lower rates bills while some hotels are expected to see their costs rise following a revaluation exercise.

Draft valuations of 74,000 businesses in Northern Ireland were released online on Tuesday following Reval2020.

Land and Property Services (LPS) carried out the exercise to update the last valuations issued in 2015.

The new non-domestic valuation list will be used to calculate business rate bills from April 2020.

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.

The results show a modest growth in the total value in Northern Ireland of 6.8% compared with the current valuation list, which is based on 2013 values.

In terms of potential impact, many high street shops, some shopping centres and some of the largest food stores will see a decrease in rateable value.

Meanwhile, the office sector shows an overall increase in rateable value of 8% and the pub trade will see considerable variation, with notable decreases in some pubs and significant increases in some pubs in busy urban areas.

Department of Finance permanent secretary Sue Gray said the growth in the total value of the valuation list does not translate into an overall increase in rate bills.

“I will be seeking to ensure that the regional business rate poundage that we set is lowered to reflect the overall growth in the valuation list,” she said.

“I will also be encouraging councils to do the same in respect of district rate poundages reflecting the fact that revaluation is not about raising more revenue overall from rates.

“If rate poundages are adjusted downwards by both central government and district councils (before any necessary cost of inflation) this would mean up to 59% of business rate payers would either see a reduction or little or no change in their rate bill.”

Ms Gray encouraged business rate payers to view the draft schedule of values on the department’s website ahead of rate bills issuing in April.

A representative body for the hospitality trade expressed disappointment at the values.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill described the rating system as “antiquated” and claimed it needs “radical change”.

“Businesses in the hospitality sector should immediately check their new draft valuations on the LPS website and contact us for advice if they feel the increase is unreasonable,” he said.

“Government must act to fix this system and also provide the same level of support enjoyed in England and Wales before it is too late.”

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts also expressed his concerns about the rates system.

It is a scandal that Northern Ireland has now the highest business rates in the UK, which is restricting the growth of our retail and SME sectors Glyn Roberts, Retail NI

“Our system of antiquated business rates is broken and not fit for purpose in the 21st century,” he said.

“It is a scandal that Northern Ireland has now the highest business rates in the UK, which is restricting the growth of our retail and SME sectors.

“This reval should not add to any further burden to thousands of businesses struggling to pay their rate bills.”

FSB NI head of external affairs Roger Pollen called for action to be taken to reduce the rates burden on small businesses.

Mr Pollen said the matter should be high on the agenda of any returned Executive.

“We welcome the commitment from the permanent secretary Sue Gray to lower the regional rate and we share her call to councils to follow the same approach with the district rate,” he said.

“We will continue to urge the department, councils and all those with influence to take further action to significantly reduce the rates burden on businesses.”

PA

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