There are a number of measures available to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19 with rate payments.
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.
This will happen automatically. Ratepayers do not need to request to have their rate bill deferred 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 automatically 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.
Rates holiday for businesses
There will be a four-month rates holiday for all business ratepayers, excluding public sector and utilities.
This means that no rates will be charged for April, May June and July 2020. This amount does not need to be paid back.
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 is making available £10,000 and £25,000 one-off grants 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 is available to businesses that are currently in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief. Businesses with a Total Net Annual Value (NAV) of £15,000 and below, who currently benefit from Industrial Derating, are also eligible for the £10,000 grant. Read more details on eligibility and how to register - £10,000 Small Business Support Grant Scheme
The £10,000 Small Business Grant Support Grant Scheme is also available to businesses who are sole tenants of a rental property, or who own and occupy a property with a total NAV of £1,590 or less. Read more details on eligibility and how to register - 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 is for eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors who pay rates on a property with a Total NAV between £15,001 and £51,000. Read more details on eligibility and how to register - Coronavirus: £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant.
The £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant is also available to businesses who are sole tenants of a rental property, or who own and occupy a property with a total NAV of £1,590 or less. Read more details on eligibility and how to register - Business Support Grants online form for rental properties and/or properties with a Total NAV of £1,590 or below.
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.
Hardship Rate Relief
The Hardship Rate Relief scheme is available for non-domestic ratepayers who have been affected by exceptional circumstances.;
However, at any time a ratepayer is experiencing any difficulty in paying a business rate bill, they are encouraged to contact LPS at the earliest possible opportunity, as in most cases payment arrangements can be put in place to assist.
Please note: Most LPS services are available, but LPS Customer Information Centres remain closed until further notice. The Ordnance Survey helpline remains closed until further notice, however queries can be directed to Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk. Helplines for rating and valuation, housing benefit, rates relief and land registration are open.
Closures will be kept under regular review in line with further Government announcements. Further information on service updates, helpline numbers and reaching LPS by email are available on the LPS website.
Hardship Rate relief is only available on rates that are due – therefore, it will not be possible to claim it for April May and June 2020. However, if your business has been affected during February and March 2020, you can apply.
Estimating your rate bill for 2020-21
It is not yet possible to estimate your rate bill for 2020-21. This is because the regional rate for 2020-21 has not been set by the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Finance Minister announced a reduction in the regional business rate of 12.5% to benefit all businesses as part of the NI Budget package on 30 March 2020. The Rates Calculator for 2020-21 will be updated at the end of April 2020 after the regional business rate is ratified.
Land & Property Service (LPS) recently revalued all business properties in Northern Ireland and the new values will be used to calculate rates bills for businesses and organisations from April 2020. View the new Non-Domestic Valuation List.
It is not possible to estimate your rate bill for 2020-21 until the regional rate is set.
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.