If you're struggling to pay your bill, please get in touch with us. Don't wait for a reminder or another threatening letter.
What happens if I don't pay?
When we sent you your Business Rates bill, we told you how much you had to pay and when. If you don't pay us when requested:
You receive a reminder notice
If you're making regular payments but pay later than the dates shown on your Business Rates bill, you may receive a reminder notice because your payment is late. This notice will remind you it's overdue and to bring your payments up to date within 7 days.
You receive a final notice
If you don't pay your Business Rates within 7 days of receiving a reminder notice, we'll send you a final notice which will tell you that we've cancelled your instalments. It will also tell you that you have to pay everything you owe for the rest of the year within 7 days.
You receive a court summons
A magistrates court summons will be issued to you after a final notice if you:
We won't send any further warnings before we send you the summons. If we do send you a summons, you'll be charged for the court costs. It's always best to contact us if you can't pay your bill on time.
- Make an arrangement to pay but don't keep it up to date
- Don't pay anything
- Pay some but not the entire bill
- Ignore the final notice entirely
What happens once a court summons is issued?
If you get a court summons, you can do either one of the following:
- Pay the full amount shown on the summons, including the court costs of £123.50, before the date of the hearing.
- Contact us and we’ll try and help you. We might be able to make an arrangement with you to pay what you owe. We'll look at your payment records before we agree to do this. You’ll still have to pay the cost of the court summons.
Do I have to go to court?
It's your right to appear in court if you've been summoned, however you don't have to attend. The court cost will be added to your account regardless of whether you attend or not.
If you're attending the court hearing, please ring us in advance to discuss your account.
At the hearing we'll ask the magistrates to grant a liability order. If you attend, the magistrates 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:
- That you've paid the amount shown on the summons in full before the hearing, including the court costs.
- You're not the person who should be responsible for paying the Business Rates
- We've not sent you the bill, reminder or summons correctly.
We only have to prove notices were sent to you. We don't have to prove that you've received them.
If you don't have a valid defence, the magistrates will grant a liability order.
The following are not valid defences:
- You can't afford to pay.
- You've an outstanding appeal with the Valuation Office.
What is a liability order?
A liability order is granted by the magistrates to give the council more powers to help recover outstanding Business Rates.
A liability order allows us to take any of the following actions if you don't pay your Business Rates. We can:
- Use enforcement agents who may take your goods to sell to cover the amount you owe
- Create a winding up petition for your company
- Liquidate your company
- Start bankruptcy proceedings against you
- Obtain a charging order
Some of these recovery actions will increase the amount you owe by adding costs. To avoid these additional costs you should make arrangements with us to pay.
What happens if we use an Enforcement Agent?
As part of a liability order, Enforcement Agents can be sent to your business to seize your belongings if you're unable to set up a repayment plan.
There are 3 stages that Enforcement Agents follow:
A written request is sent to pay your outstanding Business Rates and the compliance fees in full, or to arrange a payment plan.
This written request is an official notice that an Enforcement Agent will visit your property in 7 days to take control of goods if you don't respond.
A fee of £75 is added to your account balance at the compliance stage. Every time a liability order is passed from us to an Enforcement Agent, a fee of £75 is charged to your account balance.
If you don't contact the enforcement agency within 7 days of receiving the written request, an Enforcement Agent visits your property and takes control of your goods.
If you arrange a payment plan, the Enforcement Agent may let the goods stay in your property and you enter into a Controlled Goods Agreement. This agreement means a list of all items is created. Should you fail to honour the payment plan then items can be taken.
If you do not pay in full or agree to a payment plan for the outstanding balance of your account, an Enforcement Agent can seize goods - up to the value of what is owed; this is known as Taking Control of Goods. The value of the goods may not be as much as you paid.
An enforcement fee of £235 is added to your account balance as soon as an Enforcement Agent visits your property for the first time. Should you owe more than £1,500, 7.5% of the total amount above £1,500 along with the enforcement fee will be added to your account balance.
For multiple liability orders, only 1 enforcement stage fee is charged.
Sale or disposal stage
An Enforcement Agent attends your property to remove goods for auction or prepare goods to be sold.
A fee of £110 is added to your account at the sale or disposal stage, for multiple liability orders, only 1 enforcement stage fee will be charged.
Should you owe more than £1.500, 7.5% of the total amount above £1,500 along with the enforcement fee will be added to your account balance.
In addition to the fees above, the Enforcement Agents may also recover fees for associated costs that are reasonable for storage following removal of goods, locksmiths and auctioneers.
Please note: once your account is passed to an Enforcement Agent, your account balance and all fees must be paid to the Enforcement Agent, not to us.
Should you miss an Enforcement Agent visit, their details will be left and you should contact the Agent to make payment or arrange another visit.