21 May 2020
Rates support package to help Northern Ireland businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19)
Several business rates support measures are available to help Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19. These include a rates holiday and rates relief for specific sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rates holiday for businesses
There will be a four-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, June and July 2020. This will be shown as a discount on the annual rate bill for business ratepayers.
Rates relief for specific sectors
In addition, the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic will pay no rates for the full financial year up until 31 March 2021. Those sectors are:
- hospitality, tourism and leisure
- retail (excluding certain supermarkets and off-licences)
- Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and the City of Derry Airport
£10,000 and £25,000 Business Support Grant Schemes
The NI Executive made £10,000 and £25,000 one-off grants available to eligible business ratepayers.
Registration for the £10,000 and £25,000 Business Support Grant Schemes closed at 23.59 on Wednesday 20 May 2020
The £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme was available to businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief. Businesses with a Total Net Annual Value (NAV) of £15,000 and below, benefiting from Industrial Derating, were also eligible for the £10,000 grant. Read more details - £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
The £10,000 Small Business Grant Support Grant Scheme was available to sole tenants of a rental property, or businesses owning and occupying a property with a total NAV of £1,590 or less. Read more details - Business Support Grants online form for rental properties and/or properties with a Total NAV of £1,590 or below.
The £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant was for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors paying rates on a property with a Total NAV between £15,001 and £51,000. See £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant
The £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant was available to sole tenants of a rental property, or businesses owning and occupying a property with a total NAV of £1,590 or less. Read more details - Business Support Grants online form for rental properties and/or properties with a Total NAV of £1,590 or below.
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 July 2020.
When rate bills issue in July 2020, ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between July 2020 and March 2021. Monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be updated to collect payments between July 2020 and March 2021.
Please note that a number of businesses may have been issued a rate bill in error. Land & Property Services are contacting those affected and advising them to ignore this bill. A revised bill taking account of the rates holiday reduction and any other reliefs will be issued in due course.
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.
On 31 March 2020 the Finance Minister announced a 12.5 per cent reduction in the Regional Rate for 2020-21.
Rural ATM rate relief
The rural ATM scheme has been restored which will help to sustain cash flow in isolated rural areas.
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