Non-domestic rates Non-domestic rates, or business rates, collected by local authorities are the way that those who occupy non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of local services. Under the business rates retention arrangements introduced from 1 April 2013, authorities keep a proportion of the business rates paid locally. This provides a direct financial incentive for authorities to work with local businesses to create a favourable local environment for growth since authorities will benefit from growth in business rates revenues. The money, together with revenue from Council Tax payers and certain other sums, is used to pay for the services provided by Bedford Borough Council. See GOV.UK's pages on business rates for more information about the business rates system, including transitional and other reliefs. Rateable value Apart from properties that are exempt from business rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value which is set by the valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency, an agency of HM Revenue & Customs. They draw up and maintain a full list of all rateable values, available at the Valuation Office Agency. The rateable value of your property is shown on the front of your bill. This broadly represents the yearly rent the property could have been let for on the open market on a particular date. For the revaluation that came into effect on 1 April 2023, this date was set as 1 April 2021. The valuation officer may alter the value if circumstances change. The ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) can request a change to the value shown in the list if they believe it is wrong, through the reformed Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) process introduced in April 2017. Bedford Borough Council can only backdate any business rates rebate to the date from which any change to the list is to have effect. The Valuation Office Agency will continue to fulfil its legal obligations to alter rating assessments if new information comes to light indicating the valuation is inaccurate. See GOV.UK's pages on how to check and challenge your rates evaluation for full details on the appeals process. National non-domestic rating multiplier Bedford Borough Council calculates the business rates bill by multiplying the rateable value of the property by the appropriate multiplier. There are two multipliers: the standard non-domestic rating multiplier and the small business non-domestic rating multiplier. The former is higher to pay for small business rate relief. Except in the City of London where special arrangements apply, the Government sets the multipliers for each financial year for the whole of England according to formulae set by legislation. The current multipliers are shown on the front of your bill. See a full list of Rating Multipliers. Business rates instalments Payment of business rate bills is automatically set on a 10-monthly cycle. However, the Government has put in place regulations that allow businesses to require their local authority to enable payments to be made through 12 monthly instalments. If you wish to take up this offer, you should contact Bedford Borough Council as soon as possible. Revaluation 2023 and transitional arrangements All rateable values are reassessed at a general revaluation. The most recent revaluation took effect from 1 April 2023. Revaluations make sure each ratepayer pays their fair contribution and no more, by ensuring that the share of the national rates bill paid by any one ratepayer reflects changes over time in the value of their property relative to others. A transitional relief scheme limits changes in rate bills as a result of the 2023 revaluation. Under the transitional scheme, limits continue to apply to yearly increases until the full amount is due (rateable value times the appropriate multiplier). The scheme applies only to the bill based on a property at the time of the revaluation. If there are any changes to the property after 1 April 2023, transitional arrangements will not normally apply to the part of a bill that relates to any increase in rateable value due to those changes. Changes to your bill as a result of other reasons (such as changes to the amount of small business rate relief) are not covered by the transitional arrangements. The transitional arrangements are applied automatically and are shown on the front of your bill. Further information about transitional arrangements and other reliefs may be obtained from Bedford Borough Council or GOV.UK's introduction to business rates. See GOV.UK's pages on transitional relief for more information on the 2023 revaluation. Unoccupied property rating Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period rates are payable in full. In most cases the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the unoccupied property rate. Full details on exemptions can be obtained from Bedford Borough Council. Further information about rating for unoccupied properties Partly occupied property relief A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the local authority has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained from Bedford Borough Council. Further information about rating for Partly Occupied Properties Small business rate relief Ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £50,999 and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates, will have their bill calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier. In addition, generally, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill. This percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either: one property, or one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899. The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £19,999 outside London or £27,999 in London on each day for which relief is being sought. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase. The Government has introduced additional support to small businesses. For those businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief, the Government has confirmed that they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria and has not received the relief they should contact Bedford Borough Council as soon as possible. Provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period. Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to Bedford Borough Council by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by Bedford Borough Council). The changes which should be notified are: The ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and An increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief. Further information about Small Business Rate Relief Charity and community amateur sports club relief Charities and registered Community Amateur Sports Clubs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the club, and is wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes of the charity (or of that and other charities), or for the purposes of the club (or that and other clubs). Bedford Borough Council has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. Further information about Charitable Relief Supporting small business relief Ratepayers losing some or all Small Business or Rural Rate Relief as a result of the 2023 revaluation will have their increases limited to £600 per year. This relief will run until: your bill reaches the amount you would have paid without the scheme the property falls empty the property is occupied by a charity or Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) This relief will be delivered through local authority discretionary discount powers (under section 47(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988). Local discounts Bedford Borough Council has a general power to grant discretionary local discounts. Further information about Local Discounts and Hardship Relief Subsidy control regime The UK subsidy control regime began on 4 January 2023. It enables local authorities to deliver subsidies that are tailored for local needs. Local authorities providing subsidies must comply with the UK’s international subsidy control commitments. Further information about subsidy control Hardship relief Bedford Borough Council has discretion to give hardship relief in specific circumstances. Further information about Local Discounts and Hardship Relief Rating advisers Ratepayers do not have to be represented in discussions about their rateable value or their rates bill. However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct. Before you employ a rating adviser, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Information supplied with demand notices Information relating to the relevant and previous financial years in regard to the gross expenditure of the local authority is available at www.bedford.gov.uk/council-tax. A printed copy is available on request.