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Unpaid business rates

If you have a query relating to a reminder or summons for business rate arrears, please contact us immediately.

Collecting business rates (Collection & Enforcement Policy)

  • We collect all instalments (statutory payments) as they become due
  • If you don’t pay, we will try to be responsive and enter into mutually acceptable arrangements for payment
  • This collection and enforcement policy meets current legislation
  • We want to ensure all business ratepayers are treated fairly
  • We deal with all complaints within 10 working days and, depending on the  complaint, further recovery action may be suspended while we investigate.

Reminders

The first you will know about your account not being paid correctly is when you receive a reminder notice. The law says:

  • A bill is issued for the estimated annual charge at the start of the year (1 April) and you then have the right to pay by monthly instalments (up to a maximum of 12)
  • The reminder amount must be paid within 7 days of receipt
  • Non-payment of the amount due on the reminder will result in you losing your right to pay by instalments and no further reminders will then be sent. The full remaining balance will then payable in one lump sum payment
  • The law prevents us from sending more than one reminder notice in any one tax year.

A reminder is sent shortly after a monthly instalment becomes due and is shown on our records as unpaid.

After the reminder

  • We encourage payment by direct debit
  • Following the issue of a reminder notice it may still be possible to make payments by direct debit by first bringing your instalments up to date
  • If you can’t do this, then contact us. You may be able to enter into a suitable arrangement for paying your business rates.

The summons

If you have not fully complied with the reminder notice, or where an arrangement has been entered into, on the understanding that a liability order will be obtained, a summons will be issued. A summons is a legal notice inviting you to appear at a Magistrates Court, but only if you dispute the business rates liability.

If you know the tax is correct, but you have not paid it, then you do not need to appear at the Court Hearing.

NB: An outstanding appeal against your rateable value is not a valid defence against the granting of a liability order.  If you have not already done so, contact us now to make arrangements to pay.

Enforcement

  • Once the Magistrates have granted the liability order, we’ll inform you of this in writing and confirm the debt due.
  • If the full payment is not made, or an arrangement has not already been entered into, then the Council has the right to decide the options for enforcement, which are shown below:

    1. Enforcement Agents .
    Enforcement Agents have legal powers, but must observe a 'Code of Practice' laid down by the Council. Once the debt has passed to them, any arrangements have to be agreed direct with the agent.
    The Enforcement Agents act on behalf of the Council to recover the debt, either by making suitable arrangements or removing goods and selling them at auction. The 'Code of Practice' agreed with the Council requires that they:

    • Must reply within 10 working days to letters sent to them.
    • Must attempt to contact by phone.
    • Must send at least two notices before visiting,
    • Should enter into arrangements, where possible.

2. Insolvency
The Council can enter a petition against you to have you declared bankrupt (NB: Your home may be at risk in such proceedings) or for a company to be wound up.

3. Committal Proceedings
This will mean that the Council will issue a warrant for your arrest (backed with bail) to appear before the Magistrates Court in order that a means enquiry can be carried out. The Court will examine your 'means' and decide if the non-payment is due to 'wilful refusal' or 'culpable neglect.'

Debt Counselling

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you could seek debt counselling advice by contacting The Business Debtline on 0800 197 6026 or by logging on to Business Debt Line.


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