18 March 2020
Emergency £100 million rates package to help Northern Ireland businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Finance Minister has announced an emergency £100 million rates package to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Delay in rate bills
Rate bills for 2020-21 were due to be issued in April 2020. To avoid placing financial pressure on ratepayers affected by COVID-19, rate bills will not be issued until June 2020.
When rate bills issue in June 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between June 2020 and March 2021. Monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be updated to collect payments between June 2020 and March 2021.
Rates holiday for businesses
There will be a three month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities. The effect of this is that no rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020. This will be shown as a 25 per cent discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.
Small Business Rate Relief
The Small Business Rate Relief scheme will be continued in 2020-21. The rates of relief and thresholds for eligibility have not changed.
What additional rates support is available for businesses?
In addition to the COVID-19 measures announced, there are other existing reliefs available to help business ratepayers. These rate support schemes include:
- Charitable Exemption for rates – offers charitable bodies 100 per cent relief.
- Sports and Recreation Rate Relief – provides sport and recreation bodies 80 per cent relief on the parts of their premises that are used for sporting purposes. Community amateur sports clubs receive 100 per cent relief.
- Industrial Derating – provides manufacturing businesses with a 70 per cent reduction in rates.
- Non-Domestic Vacant Rating - rates are payable on vacant non-domestic properties at 50 per cent of the normal level.
The Department of Finance coordinated a Business Rates Review of the non-domestic rating system in Northern Ireland, which aimed to evaluate if the business rating system is fit for purpose to fund Northern Ireland’s key services, both at a regional and district level.
The Department will be looking at the results of the Business Rates Review to evaluate if current reliefs and exemptions are fit for purpose in the current economic development.
First published 18 March 2020