Business rates

Business rates

Here you will find information about business rates, payments and any reductions you may qualify for.

Business rates - general information

Here we provide information about business rates, payments and any reductions you may qualify for.

Business rates (also known as non-domestic rates)
Business rates are the way that those who occupy non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of local services. Authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally, and combined with government support grants and other sums, these rates are used to pay for services provided by the council and other local authorities in your area.

  • Further information for businesses, including the business rate system, may be obtained by following this link.
Information regarding exemptions and reliefs can be found by clicking the following links: It is important that we are made aware of any changes that may affect the amount you pay, or whether you should be paying at all.

Rateable value
Apart from properties that are exempt from business rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value set by the valuation office agency of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 
  • The Valuation Office Agency draw up and maintain a full list of all rateable values. Details can be found on their website.
National non-domestic rating multiplier
We calculate the business rate bill by multiplying the rateable value of a property, by the appropriate multiplier. There are two of these, the standard non-domestic and the small business non-domestic rating multipliers. The former is higher and pays for small business relief.

The government sets the multiplier for the financial year for England. Between revaluations, the multipliers change with inflation and take into account small business relief. 

The multipliers for the 2016-2017 financial year are as follows:
  • standard non-domestic rating multiplier = 49.70p
  • small business non-domestic rating multiplier = 48.40p
The multipliers for the 2017-2018 financial year are as follows:
  • standard non-domestic rating multiplier = 47.90p
  • small business non-domestic rating multiplier = 46.60p
Further statutory information relating to business rates is available in the following section. 
 
Statutory information
2017 Business rates (NDR) revaluation
On 30th September 2016, the Valuation Office Agency published the draft rateable values online for all commercial premises in England and Wales.  These Draft Rateable Values will come into effect from 1 April 2017 and may have an effect on how much ratepayers will have to pay.

For more information on what is happening and how it affects you please click here.
 
Hexham Business Improvement District (BID)

A Business Improvement District or BID is a defined area within which the local business community work together and invest collectively in new projects and services that they have prioritised to address opportunities and problems that affect their businesses, staff and clients.

Please click here for further information

 

Budget statement March 2017 - relief measures announced
The Chancellor announced several measures in his budget statement on 8 March 2017 to assist businesses who as a consequence of the 2017 revaluation were faced with large increases in their rate liability.
  • Supporting small businesses
          
This is a scheme of relief which will be made available to ratepayers facing large increases in their rate bill from 1 April 2017 as a result of the loss of small business or rural rate relief.

This relief will ensure that the increase per year in the bills of these ratepayers is limited to the greater of:
  • a cash value of £600 per year (£50 per month). This cash minimum increase ensures that those ratepayers currently paying nothing or very small amounts are brought into paying something, or
     
  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme.

 

  • Discretionary Relief scheme

The Government announced the establishment of a £300m discretionary fund phased over four years from 2017-18 to support those businesses that face the steepest increases in their business rates bills as a result of the 2017 revaluation.
                         
The intention is that every billing authority in England will be provided with a share of the £300m to support their local businesses. Billing authorities will be expected to use their share of the funding to develop their own discretionary relief schemes to deliver targeted support to the most hard-pressed ratepayers.
 
  • Support for pubs
 The Government has also announced a new relief scheme for pubs that have a rateable value of below £100,000. Under the scheme, eligible pubs will receive a £1,000 discount on their bill. The relief will have effect for 2017/18. 

Further information regarding each of these reliefs will be made available on the Council website as soon as possible.
 

Business rates – payment

If you have received a business rates bill with an amount to pay, you will be offered the facility to pay in instalments to clear your liability.

How to pay your business rates bill
We can offer 10 or 12-monthly instalments in a full financial year.

Each instalment is due on the 1st of each month, with the exception of bills paid by direct debit, where payment on the 15th and 28th are also available.

If you receive a bill during the financial year, we will offer as many instalments as there are left in that year.

We have a range of business rate payment methods, so you can choose the one that is most convenient for you:

 

Direct debit
Paying via direct debit is an efficient, convenient and safer way to pay. Direct debit payments are automatically collected from your bank or building society. Any payments made via direct debit are also protected by the direct debit guarantee. You can cancel a direct debit at any time by contacting your bank or building society.

If you haven’t already, you can now set up a direct debit online by clicking this link. In order to set up a direct debit instruction, you will need to provide your bank details, including the branch name and address, as well as your business rates account number.

You can also set up a direct debit via the telephone by ringing our contact centre on 0345 600 6400 (charged at your local rate) between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8.30am and 4.30pm on Friday,  You will need your business rates account number and bank details.  

The direct debit guarantee
  • This guarantee is offered by all banks and building societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits
  • If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit, Northumberland County Council will notify you 10 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request Northumberland County Council to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request.
  • If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by Northumberland County Council or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society. If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when Northumberland County Council asks you to.                      
  • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by simply contacting your bank or building society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify us.
Online
Payment can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To pay you will need your business rates account number, and your debit/credit card details.
Telephone
You can call our automated service 24 hours per day, seven days a week, by ringing on 0345 600 6400 (charged at your local rate). You will need your business rates account number and debit/credit card details.  
By post
Cheques and postal orders made payable to ‘Northumberland County Council’ can be sent via:

Business Rate Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

All cheques must have the relevant business rates account number written on the back, and receipts are only issued on request. When paying by post, please take into account the time it will take for the payment to reach us and for the cheque to clear.
In person
Post office or Paypoint outlet
To pay at any post office or Paypoint outlet, you must take your bill along so that the payment can be processed. You can either pay the amount of your monthly instalments, or the full amount due.

There are no fees for this service, but payments can take up to three working days to show on your business rate account.
  • You can find details of your nearest Paypoint outlet here. 
Customer information centres
At customer information centres, you may pay by cash or cheque. Please take your business rate bill as the barcode on the bill is used to process payment. Details of the location of the customer information centres can be found by clicking here.
If you fail to pay
Please pay your business rates promptly to avoid legal action. We will take legal action to recover money owed, if business rates are not paid on time.

If payment is not made after a reminder notice has been issued, the council can apply to the magistrates' court for the issue of a summons. If payment is still not made, the court can issue a liability order, which allows the council to enforce payment by either:
  • asking an enforcement agent to collect the money or remove goods to the value of the debt
  • issuing a petition for bankruptcy for individual ratepayers
  • issuing a winding-up petition if the ratepayer is a company

If you are in financial difficulty
If you are having difficulty meeting your business rates payments, please contact us immediately as you may be entitled to one of a range of reliefs available. Do not wait for recovery action to begin.

For further advice and to find out if you are eligible to apply for any of those reliefs, please contact us. 
Useful business rates contact details
If you require any information or assistance in paying your business rates, please do not hesitate to contact us by any of the following means:

Alternatively, you can write to us at:

Business Rate Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

Business rates – appeal

If you think your rateable value is wrong, you can appeal against it to the valuation office, the agency which set rateable values.

Grounds to appeal
You can appeal on any of the following grounds:
  • You feel the rateable value is wrong.
  • You feel a valuation officer’s change to the rateable value is wrong.
  • You feel your property should be exempt, or part should be rated as domestic.
  • You feel your property should be rated as more than one property.
  • A physical change to the property has occurred, that has affected the value: part of it was demolished or destroyed, for example.
  • The value of the property has been affected by a change in the local area.
  • You have changed what the property is used for.
If you wish to appeal, you should do so as soon as possible, as in some circumstances the date a change takes effect from is determined by when you made the appeal.

Where your appeal is successful, the valuation office will advise us and we will issue a revised bill. You will be entitled to interest on overpaid amounts, although not on amounts that were subject to a liability order.

While an appeal is ongoing, you still have to pay your business rates as billed.
How to appeal
To appeal, you should put your details in writing to:

Non Domestic Rates North East
Valuation Office Agency
Cathedral Court
Second Floor
1 Vicar Lane
Sheffield
S1 1HD

You can also request an application form by telephoning 03000 501 501 or by email.
They will acknowledge your application within 10 working days.
  • Alternatively, you can make an appeal online.
Rating agents
Some people employ rating agents to assist with rateable value appeals. While this is by no means a necessity, it is available. Professional advice is available from a variety of sources including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors or the Rating Surveyors Association.

Before you employ a rating advisor, ensure they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care, and if necessary, seek further advice before entering into a contract. Advice on employing a rating agent is available from the valuation office.

Business rates - changes in circumstances

We need to know of any changes that may affect either the amount of business rates you pay, or whether you should be paying business rates at all. The most important one is when you move in and out of a property.

New ratepayer
Vacating ratepayer
Occupying ratepayer
If you receive one of the available business rate reliefs and your entitlement changes, you need to contact us as soon as possible.
 
Business rates - contact us
If you require any further information regarding the above, or need to inform us of any changes of circumstance, you can contact us by: Alternatively you can write to us at:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council

Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
 

Business rates exemption for empty properties

Here you will find information on whether your empty property may be entitled to an exemption or be exempt from rating.

If you own or hold a lease for a non-domestic property – and it is empty and not in use – then you may be entitled to a period of exemption from the date it first became empty.

If the property remains empty after that exemption period, you will be liable to pay full business rates.

Exemption classes
To be exempt from paying business rates, your property must be one of the following:
  • empty less than three months
  • have a rateable value of less than £2,900 (with effect from 1 April 2017)
  • empty less than six months if a qualifying industrial property
  • an ancient monument
  • a listed building
  • one where occupation is prohibited by law
  • kept empty by action of Crown or public authority
  • the owner is bankrupt
  • the owner is a trustee under a deed of arrangement
  • the owner is entitled to possession as a liquidator
  • the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
  • the owner is a company in administration
  • the owner is a company which is subject to a winding-up order
The government introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013. For further information please see the section on new build empty relief.
How to apply
To apply for a period of exemption, please provide us with the following information:
  • date from when the property became empty
  • address of property
  • name, address and contact details of property owner
For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by: Alternatively you can write to us at:

Business Rates Section

Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
Properties exempt from rating
Certain types of property are not included in the rating list for non-domestic rates and therefore are not charged business rates. The list below shows some examples. Please contact us if you require further information or click here to visit gov.uk:
  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • places of religious worship
  • lighthouses, buoys and beacons
  • properties of drainage authorities
  • parks
  • properties used by the disabled
  • air raid protection works
  • swinging moorings
  • visiting forces headquarters
  • properties in enterprise zones  
Contact details: Alternatively you can write to us at;

Business Rates Section

Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL
New build empty relief
All unoccupied new builds completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 may be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months, up to state aid limits.

The 18-month period includes the initial three or six-month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for an extra 15 or 12 months.

Relief may now only be backdated to 1 April 2016. Any application for relief back to this date must be received by no later than 30 September 2017. Applications received after this date cannot be backdated.

100% relief will be available at the discretion of the council if you meet the stated criteria. Once complete, please send to:

Business Rates Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by:

Business rates FAQ

In this section you will find questions and answers relating to business rates.

What is the unlock code on my bill for?
A new service is available where you can sign up to My Northumberland Account. This will allow you to have your future bills sent electronically.

You will be able to view your instalments and payments.

To register you can click here. An activation code will then be sent to you via email. When you sign back in and input the activation code you can then add the service that you require.

To add the service you need to enter the unlock code from your bill.
I have an outstanding balance from 2016 on my bill but I have paid it.
Your business rate bill was produced after the cash payments from 3 March 2017 were processed. If your payment was received after this date it will not be shown on your bill.
Why is there a barcode on my bill?
You can pay your bill free of charge at any post office or pay point outlet using the barcode on your bill. 
Do you have the facility for online billing?
A new service is available where you can sign up to My Northumberland Account. This will allow you to have your future bills sent electronically.

You will be able to view your instalments and payments.

To register you can click here. An activation code will then be sent to you via email. When you sign back in and input the activation code you can then add the service that you require.

To add the service you need to enter the unlock code from your bill. If you do not have your bill, a letter will be sent to you within three working days. 
I pay by direct debit. Do I need to complete a new instruction?
Your bill will state the method of payment. If it shows direct debit we will automatically collect your instalments.

If it states barcode, you will need to set up a direct debit.

To set up a direct debit online click here
Why have I not been awarded the retail rate relief on my business rates bill?
This temporary retail relief scheme ended on 31 March 2016. It was a two-year scheme introduced by the government in April 2014 and reduced the business rates bills of certain shops, cafes, restaurants and public houses. In the first year (April 2014) the amount of relief awarded was up to £1,000 and this was increased to £1,500 in April 2015.

There will be no retail rate relief awarded on 2016 business rate bills onwards.
Why do I have to pay business rates?
Business rates are a contribution made by businesses towards the cost of all services provided by the council. These services include street lighting, road maintenance and the police and fire service.

The money collected by Northumberland County Council is paid to the government, and we then receive a share of this back based on the local adult population in the area.
How is my rates bill calculated?
The rates liability is initially calculated by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the ‘rate multiplier’. There are two rate multipliers for the 2017-2018 financial year:
  • The standard multiplier is 47.9p.
  • The small business rate multiplier is 46.60p (for occupied properties with a rateable value of £50,999 or less). 
So a ratepayer who occupies a property with a rateable value of £20,000 would have an initial liability for £9,320.00 (£20,000 x 0.46.60p) subject to transitional phasing arrangements. 
What is the rate multiplier?
The multiplier is set by central government each year and is a rate in the pound, which every local authority must use to calculate a business rates bill.

The multiplier should normally change every year to move in line with inflation. By law, the multiplier cannot go up by more than the rate of inflation.
What is the rateable value of a property?
Rateable values are determined by the valuation office agency, part of HM Revenues and Customs. The rateable value of a business is generally based on the annual rental income for the property.

Certain types of rate assessments are valued differently, such as public houses and mines. For further details, please contact the valuation office, or call 03000 501 501.
What is transitional relief?
Following a revaluation of rateable values, rate payers may be faced with a large increase or decrease in their bills. The transitional relief scheme allows increases/decreases in the rates bill to be phased over multiple years, limiting the impact on the ratepayer.

The relief will be deducted/added to the bill, depending on whether it is increasing/decreasing. The rates bill will increase or reduce by a fixed percentage, plus inflation, annually. The percentages are set by central government.
  • For further details please contact us.
How do I appeal my rateable value?
To do this ratepayers need to contact the Valuation Office Agency at Non-Domestic Rates North East Valuation Office Agency, 6th Floor, Castle House, 31, Lisbon Street, Leeds, Yorkshire LS1 4DR or telephone 03000 501501.

Click here to visit the government website to obtain Information about the grounds on which appeals may be made and the process for doing so.

Businesses should continue to pay as billed, if the rateable value is reduced an adjusted bill will be sent to you and if there is an overpayment this will be refunded.

 
I have appealed against the rateable value of my property; do I still have to pay?
Yes, as business rates are payable based on the current entry in the rating list. If the rateable value of a property is reduced, any overpayment made will be refunded, together with any interest that may be due.

The council cannot lawfully change the rateable value without being advised of the new one in writing by the valuation office agency.
Do my business rates include refuse collection?
No, there is a separate charge for commercial refuse collection. You should contact the council and make separate arrangements for your waste collection.
Is there a charge for unoccupied rates?
There is no rates payable for the first three months a property is empty, or six months in the case of industrial properties.

If a property is still empty at the end of these periods, then business rates will be charged at 100% of the basic occupied business rates. There are some properties exempt from unoccupied property rates liability.
Do I have to pay unoccupied rates for my property?
There are some properties that are exempt from empty property rates. This happens when:
  • The commercial property has been empty less than three months.
  • The industrial unit has been empty less than six months.
  • The property has a rateable value of less than £2,900.
  • The property is a listed building.
  • The owner is prohibited by law from occupying the property.
  • The owner/ratepayer is a company in administration.
  • The owner/ratepayer has been declared bankrupt.
  • The owner is prohibited by action taken by the Crown, or any public or local authority from occupying the premises.
  • The owner is entitled to possession only in their capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person.
  • The owner is a company subject to a winding up order.
  • The owner is entitled to possession of the property in his capacity as liquidator under s112 or s145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.
  • The property is owned by a charity or a community amateur sports club and will be used for the purposes of that organisation when next in use.
The government introduced a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013. For further information please see the section on new build empty relief.

 
What is small business rate relief?
Small business rate relief is available to ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value of less than £15,000.

For ratepayers who occupy properties with a rateable value of £50,999 or less, they will have their rates bill calculated using the small business rate relief multiplier.

Small business rate relief is not available if the property is unoccupied. 
How do I qualify for small business rate relief?
To enable the council to determine whether a ratepayer is eligible, an application form must be completed, signed and returned to:

Business Rate Section
Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For the criteria on eligibility and the level of relief available please view the small business rate relief section.

The ratepayer must always notify the council of changes in circumstances, such as, if they occupy any additional properties, or if the rateable value of any of their properties increases.

The government has introduced additional support to small businesses. For those businesses that take on an additional property from 14 February 2014, which would have previously meant the loss of small business rate relief, the government has confirmed they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months. For further information,contact us.
How much small business rate relief will be awarded?
From 1 April 2017, the Small Business Rate Relief will permanently double to 100%. The thresholds for relief have also been increased following the 2017 Revaluation.
  • For those with a rateable value of £12,000 or less, relief will be awarded at 100%
  • For those with a rateable value between £12,001 and £14,999, relief will be awarded on a sliding scale from between 100% and 0%.
  • If the rateable value is between £15,000 and £50,999, no relief can be awarded, however as with all properties with a rateable value of £50,999 or less, the small business multiplier is used to calculate the charge.
Level of relief 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2017

The level of relief for the period from 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2017 was doubled, and so those with rateable values of £6,000 or less receive 100% relief.

For properties with a rateable value above £6,000, but not more than £12,000 the level of relief is reduced by 1% for every £120 of rateable value above £6,000, but not more than £12,000..

If the rateable value is between £12,000 and £17,999 no percentage relief can be awarded. As with all properties with a rateable value of £17,999 or less, the small business multiplier is used to calculate the charge.

 
Do registered charities pay business rates?
If a property is occupied by a registered charity, or is exempt from charitable status, the organisation can apply for 80% mandatory relief from their business rates bill. The criterion is that the property is mainly used for charitable purposes.

Charity shops may receive mandatory relief, but only if they sell mostly donated goods. Properties occupied by a charity or trustee thereof and mainly used for charitable purposes can also be considered for up to an additional 20% of relief.

This relief is awarded at the discretion of the council and a discretionary rate relief form must be completed.
Do registered sports clubs pay business rates?
Where a club is registered with HM Revenues and Customs as a community amateur sports club, they will qualify for 80% mandatory relief from their business rates bill.

There is a further 20% available to be awarded at the discretion of the council. To apply, a discretionary relief form must be completed.
Do non-registered charities or sports clubs pay business rates?
Where a property is occupied by one or more organisations who are not established or conducted for profit and whose aims are charitable or philanthropic, an award of up to 100% relief can be made at the discretion of the council.

This also applies to those concerned with the promotion of social welfare, education, science, literature or fine arts. To apply, a discretionary rate relief form must be completed.
My rent includes business rates. Do I still have to pay?
The liability to pay business rates rests with the occupier of the property, irrespective of any agreements with a landlord. 

Business rates are payable to the council, and if the account is not kept up to date, action will be taken against the ratepayer who is ultimately liable, not the landlord.

If there are third party agreements with a landlord, then ratepayers should discuss this with their landlord.
I use a room in my house as an office. Do I have to pay business rates?
A number of factors determine whether or not a space in a home used as an office will be liable for business rates. These include the extent and frequency of business use of the room and any modifications made to the property as a result.
  • For further details on how your rateable value is calculated, please contact the valuation office.
What happens if ratepayers do not pay or are late with their instalments?
If ratepayers fail to meet instalments on their bill, a reminder is issued. Failure to bring the payment up to date will result in the right to pay by instalments being withdrawn. The remaining balance for the year must then be paid in full, to avoid a court summons being issued that may incur costs that are added to the ratepayer's account.

A liability order will be requested at the magistrates’ court and further costs will be added to the account. If an arrangement is not made or payment is not received, the council will then pass the debt on to an enforcement agent for collection, resulting in further costs and a potential repossession of goods.
How can I arrange to pay by 12 monthly instalments?
If you pay by direct debit you can go online and choose the option to pay over 12 months or you can telephone 0345 600 6400 (charged at your local rate).
Can I pay weekly?
You can pay weekly as long as you are in advance of the amount due under your monthly instalments.

You should aim to have each instalment paid by the 7th of each month to avoid a reminder being issued. 

Business rates - useful forms

Business rates - payment problems

We understand you may experience problems meeting your payments. We are here to help and will always aim to discuss a payment arrangement with you before any recovery action is taken.

Contact us:
Business Rates Section

Northumberland County Council
Wansbeck Square
Ashington
Northumberland
NE63 9XL

For further information, or if you need to inform us of a change in circumstance, please contact us by:

Reducing your business rates bill
You may be entitled to one of the business rates reliefs or exemptions, which could reduce your bill. Please see our business rates reliefs page and exemptions page for more information.
Enforcing payment
Failure to pay an instalment on time will result in Northumberland County Council taking action to recover any outstanding business rates.

First reminder
If you fail to pay an instalment, you will receive a first reminder notice requesting that payments are brought up to date.

Court summons
Failure to pay after your first reminder will result in the council seeking a liability order through the magistrates’ court. We will issue a summons against you, together with costs, and if payment is received in full before the court date we will not proceed.

However, if payment is not received then we will continue with the liability order, adding further court costs.
You can still make a payment arrangement after receiving a summons. Providing you keep to the terms of your arrangement, we will not enforce payment through the liability order.
 
Business rates - further assistance
We work closely with the Citizens Advice, which offers help and advice with debt problems.

Business rates - register and view your bill online

Here you can arrange to register to view your bill, monthly instalments and payments online.

A new service is available where you can sign up to My Northumberland Account. This will allow you to have your future bills sent electronically.

You will be able to view your instalments and payments.

To register you can click here. An activation code will then be sent to you via email. When you sign back in and input the activation code you can then add the service that you require.

To add the service you need to enter the unlock code from your bill.