Difficulties paying your Business Rates

The Council has a legal duty to seek to recovery all outstanding debts. Any failure to maximise the collection of Business Rates will potentially put Council services at risk.
 
If you have problems paying your Business Rates at any stage, you should contact the Business Rates team:-

Email: business.rates@sefton.gov.uk
Telephone: 0151 934 4360 between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)
Address: P.O. Box 21, Bootle, L20 3US

We will check whether you are entitled to any of the business rates reliefs or exemptions that exist. These could reduce your bill and make it easier for you to meet your payments. We will also discuss your payment options and consider making an arrangement with you.


Business Rate payers are entitled to pay their current year’s demand in instalments. If you receive a demand at the start of the financial year you will be given 10 instalments. Where demands are issued later in the year, the number of instalments you can pay over will be reduced. Every customer has the right to make a request for their payments to be extended for up to 12 months (i.e. April to March). Contact us to discuss what we can do for you or complete the online application form from the Do It Online section.

You should make your payments by the due dates shown on your bill and it is important that payments are actually received by the Council by that date.

If you miss an instalment, or pay less than the amount due you can expect the following action:

  • We will send a reminder notice for any unpaid instalment shortly after it is due. The overdue amount must be paid within ten days.
  • If the overdue amount is not paid, you will lose the right to pay be instalments after a further seven days. No further reminders will be sent and we will send you a Court summons.
  • If you bring your account up to date within seven days of the reminder you can still pay by monthly instalments as shown on your bill.
  • Further non-payment will result in a final notice being used. This means that your right to pay by instalments is withdrawn and the full amount outstanding on the notice must be paid within 7 days. If the overdue amount is not paid we will send you a Court summons.

If you are sent a summons you will also have to pay additional summons costs. However we will take no further action if the outstanding charge and costs are paid before the hearing.

However if payment is not received then we will seek a Liability Order. This allows us to take other legal proceedings to recover the outstanding balance if an arrangement isn’t made, such as:

  • Referring your account to an enforcement agency
  • Applying for your bankruptcy/liquidation
  • Applying for you to be sent to prison

Further costs may be incurred if any of these actions are taken.

Do I have to attend court?

You do not have to attend court: -

  • If you do not dispute that you owe the amount due.
  • If the total amount due, including costs is paid before the date of the hearing.

If you are unable to pay the full amount on the summons? 

If you are having difficulty paying the full payment, you must contact us as soon as possible with your proposed payment arrangement by completing the online payment arrangement form found in the Do it online section of this web page.

All payment arrangements must be made with the agreement of the Council and can only be accepted by Direct Debit, that way we can enter a formal arrangement on your account and make sure that no further action is taken as long as you keep to the agreed payment arrangement.
The Council will still apply for a Liability Order but undertake not to take any further proceedings if you make the payments as agreed.

What if I dispute the debt?

  • If you dispute that you owe the amount due or that you are responsible for the property contact the Council immediately.
  • The Council will attempt to resolve any dispute before the court hearing date. If the dispute cannot be resolved, your right to ask the Magistrates to consider your case is unaffected.

Attending Court

If you want to attend the court hearing, the Magistrate will ask if you have a valid defence which will stop a liability order being granted.

The most common defences that the Magistrate will take into account are:

  • You have paid you bill, including summons costs
  • You are not responsible for the premises during the period you have been summonsed for
  • Bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings have commenced
  • The application for the liability order was made  more than six years after the first demand notice was issued

If any of the above apply to you, it is very important that you contact the Business Rates team prior to the court hearing to try to resolve the matter before appearing before the Magistrates.

The Magistrate will not consider issues such as outstanding valuation appeals or your ability to pay.

Enforcement Agent

If we pass your case to our enforcement agency, a £75 fee will be added to your account immediately.

You should contact the enforcement agency straight away to discuss payment arrangements to avoid further fees being added to your account.

If you don’t, an enforcement agent will visit you to remove goods to cover the amount you owe and an additional £235 enforcement fee will be added to your account, plus 7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500.

You can make a payment arrangement with the enforcement agent at any stage, but you must sign the controlled goods agreement.

If you don’t keep up your payments, they can remove goods and will charge an additional fee of £110 plus 7.5% of any balance owed over £1,500 - plus reasonable storage and auctioneer fees.

If you make payments to us after your case has been passed to the enforcement agency, your case will remain open with them and they’ll proceed as normal for the remaining balance, including their fees.

Once your case has been passed to the bailiff, it will remain with them until the full debt is cleared.

This course of action can add substantial costs to your account. To avoid this, contact us before the court hearing.

If you have several debts and are experiencing problems in paying them it may help if you get independent guidance from an advice agency.

They may be able to help you prioritise the debts, work out how much you are able to afford and may negotiate repayments on your behalf.

Local and national agencies that give free advice are listed in the 'Related Links' area of this page.

 


Last Updated on 16 October 2017