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Non-domestic Rates: Ports

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much each of the Humber ports paid in business rates in (a) 2004, (b) 2005, (c) 2006, (d) 2007 and (e) 2008; and for how much each such port is liable in respect of each year since 2005 following the new assessments made in 2008. (256951)

The Department does not hold this information. Local authorities are responsible for billing and collection of rates from individual businesses.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has for the administration of the scheme to enable businesses to pay backdated rates bills over eight years in relation to (a) port and (b) other businesses; whether her Department has issued instructions to local authorities on the claiming of arrears; and what estimate she has made of the cost to the Exchequer of the payment scheme. (256719)

The Department has issued a Business Rates Information Letter (BRIL 2/2009) on the policy for a schedule of payments, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. I have also written to the leaders of billing authorities confirming that the legislation has been put in place. The impact of the policy is set out in the impact assessment which was laid before this House on 10 February accompanying the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 204).

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has refused to implement fast track arrangements for port businesses which are unable to provide the VOA with previous rating assessments in relation to the review of their new rating assessments; and if she will make it her policy to allow such businesses to gain access to fast track arrangements by submitting notional figures for previous assessments. (256720)

The Valuation Office Agency has implemented the fast track arrangements for all ports businesses affected by a backdated liability for business rates as a result of the review of businesses within ports.

Where ratepayers have failed to submit appeals (proposals) in accordance with the legislation, these have been treated as invalid. It is in the interests of fairness to all ratepayers that the regulations, which determine how appeals should be made, are applied consistently. However the Valuation Office Agency has continued to deal with and respond to these cases in accordance with the fast track arrangements despite the absence of a valid appeal.