Viewpoint - 19/06/2020

Northern Ireland non-domestic rates revaluation 2020

In recent months Northern Ireland (NI) has had a non-domestic rates revaluation, with the new valuation list having taken effect from 1st April 2020, which has understandably been somewhat overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In recent months Northern Ireland (NI) has had a non-domestic rates revaluation, with the new valuation list having taken effect from 1st April 2020, which has understandably been somewhat overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The revised Net Annual Value’s (NAV) for all commercial properties in NI can be located on the Land and Property Services (LPS) website.


The retail sector in NI has seen NAV’s remain relatively static, with the office, leisure and hospitality sectors having been subject to significant increases. NI’s
industrial sector has seen marginal increases as a whole, but this has varied by location.

In order to calculate the business rates payable, the NAV is multiplied by the rate poundage for the respective Council Area. The new rate poundages for the period 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021 are as set out below.

 

Council Area

2019/2020

2020/2021

Percentage Decrease

Regional Rate

 

0.3401

Regional Rate

 

0.279

District Rate (£)

Rate Poundage (£)

District Rate (£)

Rate Poundage (£)

Antrim and Newtownabbey

0.249260

0.589360

0.240426

0.519426

11.87%

Ards and North Down

0.229737

0.569837

0.231730

0.510730

10.37%

Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon

0.260884

0.600984

0.254413

0.533413

11.24%

Belfast

0.274035

0.614135

0.259166

0.538166

12.37%

Causeway Coast & Glens

0.248456

0.588556

0.248603

0.527603

10.36%

Derry City & Strabane

0.310748

0.650848

0.303794

0.582794

10.46%

Fermanagh & Omagh

0.218231

0.558331

0.218231

0.497231

10.94%

Lisburn & Castlereagh

0.226672

0.566772

0.226611

0.505611

10.79%

Mid & East Antrim

0.300460

0.640560

0.309186

0.588186

8.18%

Mid Ulster

0.245989

0.586089

0.234749

0.513749

12.34%

Newry, Mourne and Down

0.242403

0.582503

0.236209

0.515209

11.55%

The average rate poundage for NI has reduced by 11%, namely due to a considerable reduction in the regional rate. This will be welcome news to non-domestic rate payers, but there remains the opportunity to lodge an Application for the Revision of the Valuation List whereby a rate payer believes their NAV to be incorrect, with a view to further reduce their business rates liability.

We would recommend seeking advice in this regard, prior to the lodging of an application, as valuations can be increased. This would result in an increased business rates liability, and backdated underpayment due. The LSH Business Rates Team are available to provide advice in respect of your new property valuation, and recommendations as to the potential merit in submitting an application.


Covid-19 Pandemic – NI Business Rates Reliefs

 

The reduction in the regional rate with effect from 1st April 2020 was announced by the Finance Minister for NI, Conor Murphy MLA, on 17th March 2020 in the £100 million emergency rates package, as part of the first response to the Covid -19 pandemic.

Since this time a further £213 million business rates relief package has been put in place to assist commercial businesses as a consequence of the ever-increasing strain resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. We have summarised the various reliefs available to businesses at this time.

Business Rates Holidays


A four month business rates holiday for all business rates payers has been granted for the period 1st April 2020 – 31st July 2020. This covers vacant rates payable by commercial property landlords during this period. This business rates holiday does not cover public sector and utilities.


An extended 12 month business rates holiday has been put in place for the period 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021. This applies to those sectors considered to have been “hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic”. The business sectors which will avail of this extended business rates holiday are as follows:-

  • Retail (excluding supermarkets in excess of 300 sq m and off-licences);
  • Hospitality, tourism & leisure;
  • Childcare operators;
  • Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and the City of Derry Airport.

We await further detail as to the properties which will fall into the above noted property categories. We will advise in this regard once further detail has been confirmed.

Hardship Rate Relief

This scheme is in place to assist in circumstances which have impacted negatively on a business rates payer, of which the Covid -19 pandemic should apply. It is noted that this relief will not be applicable to respective rate payers benefiting from a business rates holiday during the periods detailed above. A rate payer must be in a position to demonstrate a serious loss of trade or that there has been a major effect on the services that are normally provided.

Covid-19 Support Grant Schemes

There were a number of grant schemes available to business tenants, the extent of which was dependent on the NAV for the respective property. Registration for such grants closed on 20th May 2020 in Northern Ireland, but our team can provide advice to any rate payer having difficulty in securing a grant which has been applied for within the required timeframe. Such difficulties are likely to arise in relation to the use of the property, but we would recommend seeking advice whereby an application has been rejected.

Existing Business Rates Relief Schemes

There are a number of relief schemes which were in place pre the Covid-19 pandemic, and remain in place for the foreseeable:

  • Non-Domestic Vacant Rates

Owners of vacant non-domestic properties in NI with an NAV over £2,000 are required to pay 50% business rates. Vacant rates have potential to be a point of contention as the extent of the business rates holidays are confirmed, and we would strongly recommend seeking advice in this regard where a vacant rates bill is received in the coming months.

  • Small Business Rates Relief

The NAV levels, and reliefs applicable to small business rate payers are as follows:

Level  Relief 
 NAV of £2,000 or less  50%
 NAV over £2,000 & not more than £5,000  25%
 NAV over £5,000 & not more than £15,000  20%
  • Industrial Derating

    Those properties which are occupied primarily for the purposes of manufacturing may qualify for industrial relief of a 70% reduction in rates payable.

  • Charitable Exemption

    Those charities occupying a property wholly and solely for charitable purposes benefit from 100% business rates relief.

  • Sports & Recreation Relief

Sport and recreation occupiers benefit from 80% relief to those parts of the property which are used for sporting and recreational purposes. Those properties utilised by community amateur sports clubs can apply for 100% relief.

In summary, business rates are likely to be a considerable point of contention to all commercial property occupiers and owners during the inevitably difficult business conditions ahead. Our experienced LSH Business Rates Team are available to provide advice on all aspects of your business rates liabilities, and potential reliefs for businesses. Please do contact us at any time to discuss your individual circumstances further in the hope that we can assist in reducing your business rates liabilities during these difficult times.

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