Pay business rates firms are warned
8:00am Wednesday 19th September 2012 in Latest News
SWINDON Council is warning firms to pay business rates on time after 19 businesses were prosecuted for non-payment of rates totalling about £350,000 recently.
Swindon Magistrates’ Court granted liability orders against the firms for £357,176 of unpaid business rates, or national non-domestic rates, which are paid in respect of all occupied and some unoccupied business premises.
The sums were mainly for 2012/13 debts, where businesses were behind with instalments.
Most of the £40 liability order costs and the £60 summons costs will be retained by the council to cover recovery costs.
Swindon Council says it cannot identify the businesses, whose names were passed on a list to magistrates, but one was named verbally in court as Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, which is a subsidiary of Network Rail, the owner and operator Britain’s railway infrastructure.
The company declined to comment yesterday.
NNDR, which are collected locally, pooled nationally and redistributed to councils based on population, account for 37 per cent of the council’s 2012/13 revenue net budget, which pays for everyday services.
It will become a more important source of funding from April when Swindon Council will be able to keep a percentage of the growth in business rates income.
Council leader Rod Bluh , said: “I’m sure the business climate isn’t helping businesses to pay their business rates.
“It’s what their individual circumstances are, but we have high success in Swindon in collecting council tax and business rates and it’s important for future public funding that we do.
“And there’s been a few cases where we give a lot of help to businesses that are struggling to help them with phased payments. If people are honest with us and co-operate with us, it’s relatively easy to sort out. It’s when people don’t pay.
“We try to help people where they have got general cashflow difficulties but obviously we do have a duty to collect and if people don’t talk to us then something has to happen.
“If they don’t talk to us they often end up in court.”
If a firm misses a payment, Swindon Council issues a reminder or final notice, but if payment is still not forthcoming then it can apply for a liability order, which allows the authority to use bailiffs, or investigate insolvency proceedings.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We have a good record of collecting Business Rates and our collection rates are above the local authority average.
“The percentage collected for 2011/12 for Swindon was 98.3 per cent against the authority average of 97.8 per cent.
“However, our recovery rate will rise as we continue our efforts to recover money, for years if necessary.
“We owe it to the vast majority of businesses who pay their business rates to pursue those who don’t.”