Councils sue 750 firms a day over business rates

// Councils sued 190,000 non-domestic properties over business rates in 2018-2019 financial year
// Richmond & Wandsworth councils sue 27.6% of all non-domestic properties
// Altus Group: “Tax stimulus is desperately needed”

While shops, pubs and restaurants struggle to meet growing property taxes, councils are suing 750 firms a day over business rates arrears.

An investigation by Altus Group found that in the last financial year of 2018 to 2019, 190,000 non-domestic premises – including retailers p in England were brought before a magistrate for non-payment of their business rates.

As industry bodies including the BRC battle for lower business rates to aid the survival of the high street, the new reports find companies are struggling to cope with an increasing tax burden from councils.

Following a request from Altus Group for all councils in England to provide details of how many businesses had been summonsed between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, Altus found that 9.83 per cent of all non-domestic premises had been issued summons, equating to around 750 business every working day of the year.

Westminster topped the leaders board for the most summonsing by volume, with 6882 summons, meanwhile Richmond and Wandsworth councils came in top for the percentage of premises sued, with 27.6 per cent.

Liverpool was the only council to appear on both line-ups, coming in fourth for most summonsing councils by volume, with 4254 summons and 22 per cent of premises sued.

Property taxes in the UK, as a percentage of overall taxation, are the highest across the whole of the EU being more than double the average.

Altus Group argue that the findings go beyond simple tax avoidance, and that the government’s reliance on property for tax revenues is too great.

“With 1,255,800 of non-domestic premises actually having rates liabilities to pay, in real terms 15.14 per cent of firms, almost one in every six with an actual bill, received a summons to appear before a magistrate during the last year,” Altus Group head of UK business rates Robert Hayton said.

Hayton added that a tax stimulus was“desperately needed” with “major retail and hospitality businesses reducing their estates and headcount often citing high level of rates as a contributory factor whilst other sectors, such as manufacturing, were hurting too”.

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  1. Councils need to decide do they want to lose the business rates from the high streets or provide free parking to allow the high street to thrive and compete with out of town developments. What is pretty obvious to all is they cannot continue to milk both the retailer and the shopper for all they are worth, they need to decide which revenue stream is most important and remember this with no shops to visit in the high street the carparks have no purpose.

  2. I agree with David’s comment above, however, councils are greedy and short sighted and think bottom value first, for this reason I can see that the high street is truly dead and will slowly die off this decade till only large chains remain.

  3. I totally agree with both of the previous 100%. I feel free parking for four hours and then a modest hourly charge there-after within centrally located well design modern multi-story car parks built into the centre of the towns is the way forward. Greater consumer demand will provide significantly greater income for good businesses than a reduction on the rates bill.

    The flaw in the plan, however, is that whatever is done it will just benefit the Landlords who themselves are creating far more of an issue then the rate levels. We have a site in Stratford-upon-Avon, half of which is owned by the Stratford Trust it seems. With zero rent negotiations, it would appear they would rather sites remain empty and the country lose valuable rates income. I would love to know if Sports Direct gets anywhere with their Jack Wills negotiations over rent levels in Stratford!

  4. As usuala all councils are thinking about is thelselves.; They are not interested in businesses and free parking as the more money they get the more they waste on ridiulous projects. In the meantime it would be useful if they actually did what the public and bvusinesses want instead of trying to come up with ridiculous ideas just to justify their huge wages and oensions


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