Has your business been adversely affected by the Bank Buildings fire?
If so, you may be eligible to apply for help to pay your rates.
Extended payment arrangement
One of the ways Land & Property Services (LPS) might be able to help is through an extended payment arrangement. While this will not remove any rating liability, it may assist with cash flow difficulties at this time. To speak to someone about this option, contact LPS on 0300 200 7801 (call charged at local rate).
You can also apply for Hardship Rate Relief. Non-domestic properties affected by the Bank Buildings fire, including buildings owned or used by voluntary organisations, may be eligible. Applications for Hardship Rate Relief should be made as soon as possible, but must be received by 31 March 2019 at the latest.
What is Hardship Rate Relief?
Hardship Rate Relief for non-domestic property is intended to assist a business recover from a temporary crisis, financial or otherwise, as a result of exceptional circumstances, and therefore some form of recovery plan will generally be required before an application can be considered.
What is meant by a 'crisis' and 'exceptional circumstances'?
As the Hardship Rate Relief scheme covers unforeseen events, it is not possible for LPS to offer precise definitions. However, a 'crisis' would have to result in a serious loss of trade or have a major effect on the services that can be provided.
'Exceptional circumstances' will usually be circumstances that came from outside the business or organisation, are beyond the normal risks faced by businesses and cannot be foreseen or avoided. The effect of strikes within a business or organisation, increased running costs and increased competition would not be considered as 'exceptional circumstances' as they are normal business risks.
As a general rule, circumstances that would be covered by a commercial insurance policy or by compensation from public funding would not be considered as 'exceptional circumstances'. However, each case will be considered on its own merits.
What type of property does Hardship Rate Relief apply to?
Most non-domestic properties, including those owned or used by voluntary organisations, will be eligible for Hardship Rate Relief if they meet certain conditions. However, properties such as car parks, advertising hoardings, telecommunications masts and towers, and cash machines (ATMs) will not be eligible.
How do I apply for Hardship Rate Relief?
LPS have an application form for businesses that feel they are eligible to apply for Hardship Rate Relief. Download the LPS application form and guidance notes for Hardship Rate Relief (PDF, 447K).
Will I still need to continue to pay my rates?
You should continue to pay your rates while LPS consider your application. This will help you to avoid paying a large amount in one go if your application is unsuccessful. If your application is successful LPS will refund any rates you have paid for the period the Hardship Rate Relief is granted for.
What support can I expect if my application is successful?
The maximum amount of Hardship Rate Relief you can get is the rates for one financial year. However, the amount may be reduced if you have received any De Minimis state aid over the past three years.
De Minimis state aid is granted to a business by a public body, publicly funded body or a body under public sector control. Hardship Relief is intended to be temporary and it should apply only for the length of time that it takes a business or organisation to recover from the exceptional circumstances.
What happens if I disagree with the decision?
You can ask LPS to review your case within one month of receiving the decision letter. You must explain why you think the decision is wrong. A different and more senior LPS officer to the one who made the original decision will review your case.
Further information on Hardship Rate Relief
You can contact the LPS Application Based Relief Team for further advice and information on the Hardship Relief scheme. You can contact the LPS Hardship Rate Relief Team by using the following methods:
- Tel 0300 200 7801 (charged at local rate)
- Tel +44 28 9049 5794 if calling from outside the UK
- Text relay 18001 0300 200 7801
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- What you need to do about health and safety
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services