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Difficulties paying business rates

We want to help business rates payers understand the process by which arrears will be recovered and to offer practical advice on what to do at each stage of the recovery process.

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I've received a reminder, what happens now?

Payment of business rates is a legally enforceable debt and the council has numerous powers to recover any amounts that are not paid. You have previously been issued with a bill which detailed the amount to be paid and the dates on which payment was due. You have been sent a reminder because insufficient payments have been received on your business rates account.

The reminder notice details the amount by which your account is in arrears. In order to avoid any further proceedings the arrears should be paid in full within 7 days of the date of the reminder notice. It is important to ensure that all future payments are made on time to avoid further reminder notices being issued to you. Opting to pay by direct debit is the most convenient method of payment and offers the flexibility of four payment dates over either a 10 or 12 month payment period. Should you wish to take advantage of this method of payment please visit pay your rates (opens new window), ensuring you have your bank account number and sort code available. 

If you are unable to pay the amount in full as requested on the reminder notice please contact the taxation team immediately. We may be able to agree an alternative arrangement. All reasonable payment proposals will be considered.

If, after receiving a first reminder notice, your instalments once again fall into arrears, you will be sent a second reminder notice. This will be the last reminder that you receive during the financial year.

If you do not make full payment of the arrears within 7 days of the date of issue of the reminder notice, or contact the taxation team to discuss alternative arrangements, you will lose the right to pay the remainder of the balance on your account by monthly instalments. This means that the total balance shown on your reminder notice will be due within a further 7 days. If the balance is not paid in full as requested a magistrates court summons will be issued. 

I've received a magistrates court summons, what happens now?

The magistrates court summons which has been sent to you details the balance on your account including the court fees that have been incurred. The notice also details the date on which the council will apply to the magistrates court for a liability order.

To stop this court action you should pay the amount shown on your summons in full, including the costs, before the court date.

If you can't pay the full amount before the court date, please get in touch with us straight away. We may be able to agree a special arrangement with you to spread your payments. This will not stop the court action and will include the court costs. As the matter is dealt with by the magistrates court no county court judgements will be made and your credit rating will not change as a result of this action.

You have the choice of whether to attend the liability order hearing or not. The hearing will go ahead in your absence unless you have already paid your account in full. If you choose to attend the hearing the magistrate will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted. The defences that the magistrates will take into account before deciding to grant a liability order are shown below:

  • you have paid your business rates account and costs in full
  • you cannot be held responsible for the premises
  • you stopped being responsible for the premises during the period for which you have been charged
  • bankruptcy / liquidation proceedings have begun
  • the rate has been charged unlawfully
  • although you occupy only part of the premises in one assessment, you are being charged for the whole property 
  • the application for the liability order was made more than 6 years after the first demand notice was issued

If you feel any of the above defences applies to you please contact the taxation team immediately in order that your account can be discussed in detail. Any necessary changes will be made as a result of the information you supply.

A liability order has been issued against me, what happens now?

If you make an arrangement with us to pay the amount you owe and you pay as agreed, no further action will be taken against you. If however you fail to pay the account in full, make alternative arrangements or fail to pay in line with an agreed arrangement, further action will be taken. We can;

  • refer your account to enforcement agents who will visit your premises in order to remove your goods to cover the amount you owe

  • apply for your bankruptcy / liquidation

  • apply for you to be sent to prison if you are a sole trader


How can I make a special arrangement to avoid further action?

Alternative payment arrangements can be discussed at any time. You do not have to wait until you are issued with a reminder notice or magistrates court summons.

If you are experiencing problems paying your business rates account please contact the taxation team immediately. All reasonable proposals will be considered, although we may need additional information regarding your financial situation before any arrangement is considered.

You are not legally obliged to provide this information but it will assist in calculating how much you can afford to pay.

Arrangements can be discussed with the taxation team on 01243 534501

Recovery rates

You should be aware that once a summons has been issued and liability order obtained, and your account is then passed to an enforcement agent for further action, additional costs will be added to your account. It is therefore in your interests to make contact as early as possible:



Percentage fee

Notice of enforcement (instruction to take action)

£75.00 per liability order


First visit by an enforcement agent

fixed fee of £235.00

7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500.00

Sale and removal of goods

fixed fee of £110.00

7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500.00 plus reasonable storage and auctioneers fees

The compliance fee of £75 will be payable for each liability order the moment a local authority refers it to the enforcement agency.