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Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department required the Valuation Office Agency to take to assess port businesses for individual rating (a) before and (b) after the end of prescriptive rating. (256926)

The legislative framework for non-domestic rating is set out in Part III of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (c.41). Property which is subject to non-domestic rating is valued every five years, and valuation is carried out by a valuation officer. He is appointed by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and he has a duty to compile and maintain an accurate list of property subject to non-domestic rating (a ‘rating list’).

This Department does not instruct the Valuation Office Agency in tasks relating to that duty.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by what date port businesses are required to make (a) the first payment of part of their annual assessment and (b) the first payment towards their arrears from 2005. (256927)

Local authorities are responsible for the billing and collection of business rates.

The regulations covering the procedures to be followed (Non Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989)) are in the process of being amended to permit the payment of arrears in instalments over up to eight years where appropriate.

The Business Rates Information Letter (BRIL) 2009/02 providing guidance and information on the impact of the changes was issued 10 February to all English billing authorities. I have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many port businesses in which ports have not yet been assessed for their liability for non-domestic rates. (256928)

There are two port reviews, reflecting the circumstances at 1 April 2005, that are still outstanding. Only one, at Humber Sea Terminal, is in England. The port businesses affected in these reviews are in discussion with the Valuation Office Agency and the delay in completing the reviews is at the request of the ratepayers affected.

There will be continuous amendments into and out of the port rating assessments as changes to and occupations of properties occur over time. Where a change is required, the Valuation Office Agency is consulting with the businesses affected prior to the rating lists being amended.