COVID-19: Rates support for businesses
There are a number of measures available to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19 with rate payments.
A number of business rates support measures are available to assist Northern Ireland businesses impacted by COVID-19.
For some of these, you must apply for support on behalf of your business. Eligibility for the 12 Months Rate Holiday and Hardship Rate Relief is assessed by Land & Property Services (LPS) separately - you must apply for both reliefs separately to be considered for both.
12 Month Rates Holiday
Eligible businesses will pay no rates for the full financial year from 1 April 2019 until 31 March 2021. The holiday will apply to eligible business uses, whether the property is occupied or vacant, in the sectors below:
- hospitality, tourism and leisure
- retail (excluding certain supermarkets and off-licences) and retail services
- Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport and the City of Derry Airport
If you consider that your business is in the sectors above but the 12 Month Rates Holiday is not shown on your 2020-21 rates bill, LPS may not have enough information about your business. Use the online application form to provide LPS with more information about your business use. LPS will review this information and decide whether or not you are eligible for the 12-month rates holiday.
Hardship Rate Relief
Hardship Rate Relief 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.
Hardship Rate Relief is only available on rates that are due - it’s not therefore possible to claim it for April, May, June and July 2020 (due to the 4 Month Rates Holiday). However, if your business was affected during February and March 2020 or since August 2020 for example, you can apply. Applications for Hardship Rate Relief should now be submitted online.
Delay in rate bills
To avoid placing financial pressure on ratepayers affected by COVID-19, rate bills (which normally issue every April) were not issued until August 2020 for the 2020-21 rating year.
Monthly Direct Debit and instalment payment plans were automatically updated to collect payments between August 2020 and March 2021.
Regional Rate reduction
On 31 March 2020 the Finance Minister announced a 12.5 per cent reduction in the Regional Rate for 2020-21.
4 Month Rates Holiday
All business ratepayers, excluding the public sector and utilities, benefitted from a four-month rates holiday (meaning that no rates were charged for April, May, June and July 2020). This was applied to rate accounts automatically, ratepayers were not required to apply.
£10,000 and £25,000 Business Support Grant Schemes
The NI Executive made one-off grants available to eligible business ratepayers, known as the £10,000 Small Business Support Grant and the £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant.
Registration for the £10,000 and £25,000 Grant Schemes closed at 23.59 on Wednesday 20 May 2020. Appeals will no longer be accepted from unsuccessful applicants who did not submit their appeal within 2 weeks of their rejection notice. This is effective from 20 October 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 new Non-Domestic Valuation List.
What other 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.
- Small Business Rate Relief - this scheme was continued for 2020-21. The rates of relief and thresholds for eligibility have not changed.
- Rural ATM Rate Relief - this scheme was restored in 2020 to help to sustain cashflow in isolated rural areas.
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.