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.
This will happen automatically. Ratepayers do not need to request to have their rate bill deferred 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 automatically 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.
This means that no rates will be charged for April, May and June 2020. This automatically reduces the 2020-21 annual rate bill for business ratepayers by 25 per cent. This amount does not need to be paid back.
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: Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March 2020 about additional measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, Land & Property Services offices and phone lines will be closed from Tuesday 24 March until Wednesday 15 April. The closure will be kept under regular review and the dates will change in line with further Government announcements. Further information on service updates will be 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 has announced that he will bring proposals to Ministerial colleagues for a reduction in the regional business rate that will benefit all businesses. The regional rate for 2020-21 will be announced as part of the NI Budget package on 30 March 2020.
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 Reval2020 draft schedule of values.
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.