750 companies a day sued for business rates arrears

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Rates pain: Altus Group claims 15.14% of companies surveyed received a magistrates’ court summons over non-payment of business rates
Rates pain: Altus Group claims 15.14% of companies surveyed received a magistrates’ court summons over non-payment of business rates
Some 190,000 non-domestic premises such as pubs, shops, restaurants and offices had to appear in front of magistrates for non-payment of their business rates.

Research from real estate adviser Altus Group said that, under the Freedom of Information Act, all councils in England were asked to provide details of how many businesses had been summonsed between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Details were provided on 1,740,073 out of the 1,933,963 non-domestic properties liable for business rates.

Number of summons

The responses, which covered 90% of all properties on the local ratings list, show a total of 171,018 summons were issued – being 9.83% of all premises – with Altus Group forecasting the overall number was likely to be have been about 190,000 – about 750 every working day.

From the last business rates revaluation in April 2017, companies with one property liable to business rates were exempt if the rateable value was £12,000 or less – up from £6,000.

Altus Group analysed official Government data and found, as a result of the changes to small business rate relief, 678,163 of the 1,933,963 premises were completely exempt from rates all together in England and had no bill to pay.

Tax stimulus

Altus Group head of UK business rates Robert Hayton said the Government’s reliance on property for tax revenues was too great with the findings going beyond simple tax avoidance.

He added: “With 1,255,800 of non-domestic premises actually having rates liabilities to pay, in real terms 15.14% of firms, almost one in every six with an actual bill received a summons to appear before a magistrate during the past year.

“A tax stimulus is desperately needed. Major retail and hospitality businesses were reducing their estates and head count, often citing a high level of rates as a contributory factor while other sectors, such as manufacturing, were hurting too.”

The real estate advisers also said the standard rate of tax, which applies to all medium and large premises in England with a rateable value of more than £51,000, rose by 2.4% on 1 April 2019-20.

Related topics: Property law

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