Business Rates Public Consultation in Northern Ireland
In May 2019, the Department of Finance announced plans to undertake a full and comprehensive review of business rates in Northern Ireland.
This Review is evaluating the current position and will make recommendations as to how the business rates system can be effective and fair, while still ensuring that overall, the same amount of revenue is available. Doing so will help the Department of Finance to be ready with updated advice for the return of Ministers.
A public consultation on the business rates system closed on 11 November 2019. Details of the consultation can be found at https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/consultations/business-rates.
The Institute’s response can be found at: https://www.irrv.net/documents/72/council_papers/2020/January/NI_Rating_Review_Final_Response_IRRV.docx
Local Discretionary Transient Visitor Levy or Tourist Tax: Consultation in Scotland
The Scottish Government has launched consultation on a local discretionary transient visitor levy or tourist tax. The section on local authority collection and enforcement arrangements (page 29 onwards) will be of particular interest to IRRV members.
Deadline for response is 2 December 2019.
New Practice Directions for the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) for England and Wales
The Institute is pleased to have been invited to assist in the finalisation of new Practice Directions for the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). IRRV members with experience of the Tribunal are also invited to feed in views to the Institute's drafting of its response.
The Tribunal’s current Practice Directions were made in 2010. Since then the Tribunal has acquired additional jurisdictions and modified its ways of working. The new draft takes these changes into account. An effort has been made to make the material accessible to users who may be unfamiliar with legal proceedings. New material has been added, including on statements of case, disclosure, applications for permission to appeal, expert evidence and remuneration, and preparation for hearings. New sections on appeals under section 18, Land Compensation Act 1961, and references under the Electronic Communications Code have been included.
IRRV invites members with relevant experience of the Tribunal to contribute the Institute's response process; and to register interest in this asap via firstname.lastname@example.org. The formal consultation process ends on 31/01/20.
Technical Consultation on The Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Relief) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2019
The Welsh Government is conducting a technical consultation on the Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Relief) (Wales) (Amendment) Order 2019. It seeks views on proposed changes to small business rates relief (SBRR) for cashpoint machines (or ATMs). Proposed changes will create a legal definition of an ATM; amend the categories of properties exempt from receiving SBRR to include ATMs; and provide clarification of how ATMs should be treated regarding SBRR. It is intended to be operational from 1st April 2020.
SBRR, as it operates in Wales, excludes certain types of property from eligibility on the grounds that they are not ‘small businesses’, in the sense in which the relief is intended to support. The exclusions electronic communications apparatus (ECA); and this category is intended to cover ATMs. Provisions to exclude ECA are incorporated into the current SBRR scheme and specific reference was made in a 2017 consultation on the SBRR scheme to the exclusion of ATMs from eligibility for the relief.
In January 2018, a rating agent acting on behalf of an ATM ratepayer, Cardtronics UK Ltd, brought a legal challenge against Pembrokeshire County Council for the non-award of SBRR in relation to its ATM sites in the county. The court ruled in favour of Cardtronics UK Ltd on the ground that ATMs are not ECA. Therefore, where applicable, ATMs which meet the relevant criteria would now be eligible for SBRR. The Draft Order’s provisions clarify how ATMs should be treated with regards to SBRR. The intended effect will be to fulfil the original policy intention to ensure that ATMs are not eligible to receive SBRR.
Closing date is 30th October 2019
The paper can be found at: https://gov.wales/non-domestic-rating-small-business-relief-wales-amendment-order-2019
The Institute's response was to support the proposal, stating that it could not not see any reason why the proposed changes would not fulfil the Welsh Governments’ intention that ATMs should not receive SBRR.
The Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill
The Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 25th March 2019. The Local Government and Communities Committee, the Lead Committee on the Bill, has issued a call for evidence on the proposals, including mainstream independent schools no longer being able to claim charitable relief. The Bill also aims to address what the Scottish Government describes as a known tax avoidance tactic involving unoccupied or under-used properties.
The proposals include:
- tax relief reforms for new or improved properties, intended to encourage development and investment in business properties.
- revaluation of properties subject to non-domestic rates being carried out every 3 years rather than every 5 years.
- a measure intended to address a perceived “loophole” that enables owners of holiday homes to avoid both council tax and non-domestic rates by making it more difficult to enter a home on the roll.
- clarification as to when sports clubs should be allowed rates relief.
- an alteration to enable councils to initiate debt recovery proceedings for unpaid rates sooner.
For information about submitting a written response, please see the following link on the Scottish Parliament website, https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/111638.aspx
The call for written views closed on Thursday 30 May 2019.
The Institute's submission, which was formally made by the Scottish Association, can be found here:
Parliamentary Committee Inquiry: Local Government Finance and the 2019 Spending Review
The Parliamentary Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee have announced a new inquiry into local government finance. Ahead of the Spending Review 2019 expected this autumn, the inquiry will consider how effective the existing funding set-up for local government is in providing resources to meet need and demand for local services both now and in the future. The Committee’s work will seek to directly inform government policy towards local government funding in the Spending Review and beyond.
Terms of reference
The Committee is inviting submissions on:
- What lessons can be learned from past changes to local government funding in England, the current financial situation of councils, and how this has affected their ability to deliver services.
- The efficiency, fitness for purpose and sustainability of the current system for funding local government (central government funding, council tax, business rates retention and other income); how it could be improved, including options for widening the available sources of funding; and what lessons can be learned from other jurisdictions.
- How funding needs of local government are assessed. The current and forecast funding needs of local government and how these needs can be better understood at both a national and local level.
- The approach the Government should take to local government funding as part of the 2019 Spending Review, what the key features of that settlement should be, and what the potential merits are of new or alternative approaches to the provision of funding within the review.
The deadline for written evidence is Wednesday 17 April 2019. Further details can be found at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/housing-communities-and-local-government-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/inquiry18/
The Institute's response can be found here
Decapitalisation rates for the 2021 business rates revaluation (Wales)
The Welsh Government is undertaking a technical consultation on setting decapitalisation rates for Wales for the Non-Domestic Rates Revaluation 2021.
This consultation closes on 30 May 2019.
The consultation paper can be found at https://beta.gov.wales/sites/default/files/consultations/2019-03/decapitalisation-rates-for-wales-consultation_0.pdf
The IRRV response can be found here.
Decapitalisation rates for the 2021 business rates revaluation (England)
The government seeking views on the decapitalisation rates to be adopted for the 2021 business rates revaluation in England.
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 30 May 2019
The government has committed to introduce more frequent business rates revaluations and will bring forward the date of the next revaluation from 2022 to 2021. Thereafter the government will move to 3 yearly revaluations ensuring rating assessments are more up to date.
This technical consultation concerns whether the government should prescribe decapitalisation rates for 2021 and, if so, how the rates should be prescribed.
Northern Ireland Welfare Policy Inquiry
The Northern Ireland Affairs and Work and Pensions Committees are holding a joint inquiry into welfare policy in Northern Ireland. The deadline for written submissions is Friday 24 May 2019. The inquiry follows the passage of the Northern Ireland Budget Act which set out funding for NI departments, and the upcoming end in 2020 of the social security ‘mitigation’ package put in place by the NI Executive. The inquiry will consider the impact of the mitigation package, the operation of Universal Credit (including alternative payment arrangements) and the effect of the two-child limit.
The social security ‘mitigation package’—an additional £585m of welfare spending put in place by the NI Executive as part of the Fresh Start Agreement—is due to end in 2020. The package currently provides payments to people to offset the benefit cap and the ‘bedroom tax’. The inquiry will examine the likely impact of the spending ending in 2020 and the effects of having higher levels of welfare entitlement in Northern Ireland.
It will also look at the operation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, including issues with housing arrears and deductions, and how the alternative payment arrangements—which allow people to get UC payments on a different frequency or split them between members of a household—are working in practice. The inquiry will also consider the impact of the two-child limit—the Government’s policy that families can’t claim child benefits for any third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017—in Northern Ireland.
The Committee would like to hear views on the following questions. They are interested in hearing from people with personal experience of the issues – such as using the Universal Credit system in NI - as well as policy organisations and expert groups. It is not necessary to answer all of the questions.
Terms of Reference
- What has been the impact of the NI Executive social security 'mitigation package'?
- What would be the likely effects of the mitigation package coming to an end in 2020?
- What, if anything, should replace the mitigation package from 2020?
- What are the effects of having higher levels of welfare entitlement in Northern Ireland? Is it feasible for Northern Ireland to have differing levels of welfare entitlement in the long term?
- How well is Universal Credit working in Northern Ireland? Are there issues with Universal Credit that are specific to Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK?
- Do people in Northern Ireland benefit from the flexibility to have Universal Credit paid at a different frequency or with split payments?
- What is the impact of the two-child limit on families in Northern Ireland?
- Do social housing tenants in Northern Ireland (including NIHE tenants) regularly experience rent arrears? What are the reasons for this? What level of deductions do tenants face to pay back arrears?
The consultation closed on 24th May 2019. The IRRV response can be found here.
The Impact of Business Rates on Business Inquiry (England)
The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into Business Rates to scrutinise how Government policy has impacted business. The Committee will examine how Business Rates policy has changed, including Business Rates retention, alternatives to property-based taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax, and how changes to Business Rates could impact businesses.
Terms of Reference
The inquiry will look at how changes in Central Government policy have changed the business rates system. In turn, this inquiry will also look at how the current business rates system is operating and the associated impact on business.
The inquiry will cover the following:-
The impact of changes in Business Rates policy since 2017 on businesses, in particular:-
- The changes in reliefs and allowances.
- The ability of businesses to pay.
- The relationship between Business Rates and the behaviours it drives in business.
How the current Business Rate system measures up against the following pillars of good tax policy:-
- Support growth and encourage competition.
- Provide certainty.
- Be coherent.
The economic justification for a property-based business tax:-
- The impact of Business Rates on rental prices
- The impact of Business Rates on property prices
- Alternatives to property-based business taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax
- The problems associated with property-based business taxes
- The impact of changes (proposed and actual) of Business Rates on Local Authorities and Councils, and the High Street.
The deadline for written submissions is 2 April 2019. The document can be found at https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/treasury-committee/inquiries1/parliament-2017/inquiry3/
The IRRV submission to this inquiry can be found here
Business Rate Retention Reform (England)
This consultation sought views on proposals for sharing risk and reward, managing volatility in income and setting up the reformed business rates retention system.
The reform of the business rates retention system will sit alongside wider changes to the local government finance system which the government aims to introduce in 2020.
The closing date for comments was 21 February 2019. The document can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/business-rates-retention-reform?utm_source=a5080470-f3db-4fd5-a225-3fe50358fec4&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=daily
The Institute's response can be found here
MOJ Review of the 2014 enforcement agent reforms introduced by Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act: Call for Evidence
The government has conducted the second post-implementation review of regulations which were introduced in 2014 to regulate the operation of enforcement agents and the fees that they charge. The reforms implemented provisions in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. This call for evidence will feed into that review. MOJ are interested in hearing from people who have been contacted by enforcement agents: enforcement agents, creditors, debt advisers, the judiciary and anybody else with experience of working with enforcement agents.
The call for evidence ended on 17 February 2019. The evidence background paper can be found at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/review-of-enforcement-agent-bailiff-reforms/
The Institute's response can be found here
29 Jan 2019
The Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) is pleased to provide this submission to the call for evidence regarding the Breathing Space proposals.
IRRV Response: Consultation on the Business Rates treatment of self-catering accommodation
19 Jan 2019
The Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV) is pleased to provide this response to the consultation on government proposals on the Business Rates treatment of self catering accommodation