Tax & admin · 9 January 2018

Local councils intensify bailiff enforcement against unpaid business rates

As company owners across England and Wales grapple with the growing property tax burden, new research has revealed a sudden spike in bailiff enforcement against unpaid business rates.

An investigation undertaken by ratings advisor Altus Group found that around 41, 000 business premises wereapproached bydebt collectors in the five monthsafter 1 April 2017 a nine per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016.

Following authorisation by a local authority, debtenforcement agentsare able to enter a commercial premises and seize goods to sell at public auction, with the proceeds taken by the council to settle unpaid business rates.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request raised in the investigation asked local councils to submit details on bailiff enforcement against local businesses, of which 247 authorities responded with data on 1.37m properties.

Between 1 April and 31 August 2017 the first five months of the latest business rates regime a total of 28, 355 commercial properties were referred for bailiff enforcement, according to the FOI request.

Read more about the challenges of business rates revaluation:

When considering the 1.98m properties liable for business rates, Altus Group predicted the total number of bailiff collections was likely to be 40, 965, a nine per cent rise in bailiff enforcementfrom£2016/17.

The London Boroughs of Hounslow and Lewisham resorted to bailiff enforcement most frequently in the five month period, with one in 11 business owners in both areas facing the prospect of having goods seized.

In 2017, rateable values in Hounslow rose by 25.09 per cent and by 31.83 per cent in Lewisham, demonstrating the challenges posed by business rates revaluation in both boroughs.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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