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23 Mar 2010 : Column 275W—continued

Mortgages: Government Assistance

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects updated figures for the take-up rate of the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme next to be published. [323103]


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John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 16 December 2009, Official Report, column 1297W.

Multiple Occupation: Licensing

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 915W, on multiple occupation, what steps his Department is taking in respect of local authorities which have not reported the Register of Licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation data to his Department; and for what reason such data were not intended to be part of the National Indicator set. [323030]

Mr. Ian Austin: Local authorities not currently supplying data to the Department for the Register of Licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (ROLHMO) are contacted on a monthly basis for updates as to when they will be in a position to supply data. It is not a statutory requirement for local authorities to provide data.

The collection of information from local authorities serves a range of purposes. The national indicator set is limited to measures for Government's priority outcomes. There are many services and activities undertaken by local government, alone or in partnership, which are not directly reflected in the national indicator set but which will continue to be important to local areas and the people they serve. It is more appropriate that these are performance-managed locally-with local authorities setting priorities and reviewing performance.

Non-Domestic Rates

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average change is in (a) business rate valuations and (b) business rates payable between 2009-10 and 2010-11 taking into account the rate poundage and transitional relief in each local authority area in England. [322346]

Barbara Follett [holding answer 15 March 2010]: I have placed a table containing the average change in (a) rateable value and (b) the national non-domestic rates bill after transitional relief in the Library of the House.

The data used to produce the average change in rateable value between 2009-10 and 2010-11 are consistent with the statistical release titled "Non-domestic rateable values: 2010 Local Ratings Lists-England and Wales" published on 18 December 2009. A copy of this statistical release is available at the following link:

No estimates of the average change in bills have been made, as these contain not only transitional relief but all other reliefs, some determined at the billing authorities' discretion. Therefore it is not possible to estimate the likely bill of a hereditament.

For the purpose of modelling the 2010 Transitional Relief scheme, the Notional Chargeable Amount (NCA) was calculated. The NCA for a given year is the product of the rateable value and that year's small business multiplier. The NCA is then compared to the previous
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year's reference value increased by the caps. The minimum of these two values was used as a proxy for the bill after transition.

The data used for this modelling are consistent with the consultation document titled "The transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation 2010 in England". Details on the methodology and assumptions used can be found on page 49 of the consultation. The assumptions underlying this modelling include zero inflation, which does not reflect the latest information available, and adjustments for appeals. A copy of the consultation document is available at the following link:

Rateable values are only one part of the rates bill. The other is the ratings multiplier-which is applied to calculate final bills. To compensate for the higher property market at the time of revaluation we have reduced the multiplier by 15 per cent. taking it to its lowest level for 17 years-this is designed to ensure the Government do not collect an extra penny from revaluation and that each business pays its fair contribution by ensuring the share of the national rates bill paid by any one business reflects changes over time in the value of their property relative to others.

Over a million properties will see their business rate liabilities come down as a result of revaluation. The Government have put in place a £2 billion relief scheme to limit the impact on the minority with bill increases, which in 2010-11 will ensure no business property sees its rates bill increase by more than 11 per cent. as a result of the revaluation, with maximum increases capped at just 3.5 per cent. for small properties. That is on top of the wider support available to help ease business pressures including discounted rate bills for small businesses and deferring tax payments.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of businesses in England will receive (a) an increase and (b) a reduction in their (i) business rate valuation and (ii) business rates payable taking account of the rate poundage and transitional relief as a result of the most recent revaluation. [322347]

Barbara Follett [holding answer 15 March 2010]: The information requested is as follows:

Table 1: Number and share of hereditaments in England whose rateable value will increase or decrease as a result of the 2010 revaluation

Number of h ereditaments (thousand) Proportion of a ll h ereditaments (percentage)

Increase in RV

1,276

74

Decrease in RV

187

11

No change in RV

255

15


The data used to produce the number and proportion of hereditaments in England that will receive an increase or decrease in rateable value are consistent with the statistical release titled "Non-domestic rateable values: 2010 Local Ratings Lists-England and Wales" published on 18 December 2009.

A copy of this statistical release is available at the following link:


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No estimates of the number and proportion of hereditaments in England that will receive an increase or decrease in bill have been made, as these contain not only transitional relief but all other reliefs, some determined at the billing authorities' discretion. Therefore it is not possible to estimate the likely bill of a hereditament.

However, for the purpose of modelling the 2010 Transitional Relief scheme, my Department has estimated a proxy for rates bills in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The Notional Chargeable Amount (NCA) was calculated which for a given year is the product of the rateable value and that year's small business multiplier. The NCA is then compared to the previous year's reference value increased by the caps. The minimum of these two values was used as a proxy for the bill after transition. The result of these proxy calculations is shown in table 2.

Table 2: Number and share of hereditaments in England whose proxy bill, calculated by the Department before inflation and other reliefs but after transition, will increase or decrease as a result of the 2010 revaluation

Number of h ereditaments (thousand) Proportion of a ll h ereditaments (percentage)

Increase in bill

677

40

Decrease in bill

1,028

60


The data used for this modelling are consistent with the consultation document titled "The transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation 2010 in England". Details on the methodology and assumptions used can be found on page 49 of the consultation. The assumptions underlying this modelling include zero inflation, which does not reflect the latest information available, and adjustments for appeals. A copy of the consultation document is available at the following link:

The total number of hereditaments on the draft list used for the modelling of proxy bills is lower than on the draft rating list from which the number of properties with increasing or decreasing rateable values was taken. This is because the modelling was initially undertaken when the VOA had not compiled the full rating list and explains the discrepancy between the total number of hereditaments included in table 1 and 2 above.

Rateable values are only one part of the rates bill. The other is the ratings multiplier-which is applied to calculate final bills. To compensate for the higher property market at the time of revaluation we have reduced the multiplier by 15 per cent. taking it to its lowest level for 17 years-this is designed to ensure the Government do not collect an extra penny from revaluation and that each business pays its fair contribution by ensuring the share of the national rates bill paid by any one business reflects changes over time in the value of their property relative to others.

Over a million properties will see their business rate liabilities come down as a result of revaluation. The Government have put in place a £2 billion relief scheme to limit the impact on the minority with bill increases, which in 2010-11 will ensure no business property sees its rates bill increase by more than 11 per cent. as a result of the revaluation, with maximum increases capped at just 3.5 per cent. for small properties. That is on top of the wider support available to help ease business pressures including discounted rate bills for small businesses and deferring tax payments.


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Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 December 2009, Official Report, column 399W, on non-domestic rates, what assumptions his Department made regarding (a) the number of appeals against rateable values, (b) the success rate of such appeals and (c) the resulting change in total rateable value from such appeals in each region in each year from 2009-10 to 2014-15. [323243]

Barbara Follett [holding answer 22 March 2010]: No assumptions were made about the number or success rate of appeals. However, for the purpose of modelling the 2010 Transitional Relief scheme, my Department has made an assumption about the total reduction in RV as a result of appeals.

The assumptions used for this modelling are detailed in the consultation document titled 'The transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation 2010 in England'. The methodology and assumptions can be found on page 49 of the consultation. A copy of the consultation document is available at the following link:

Non-Domestic Rates: Empty Property

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a) companies, (b) business organisations, (c) property owners, (d) property organisations, (e) councils and (f) local government organisations his Department has (i) met and (ii) received correspondence from on the subject of (A) empty property rates and (B) empty property relief since January 2007. [323166]

Barbara Follett [holding answer 22 March 2010]: Ministers and Officials from the Department meet stakeholders regularly to discuss a range of matters, including empty property rates. The Department monitored empty property rates correspondence between March 2007 and December 2008 and received 349 letters. Figures on correspondence received outside of that period could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2010, Official Report, column 1154W, on non-domestic rates: ports, who took the decision that port businesses should be separately rated; and when the decision was taken. [321732]

Barbara Follett: Valuation officers are required under Section 41 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to maintain accurate rating lists. When they become aware that a change is needed, such as that at the ports, they must make the alteration and also specify the date from which the change should become effective for rates charging purposes.

The principles concerning separate rateability where there is "exclusive occupation" and "paramount control" are long established. The leading case on the subject is a
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House of Lords decision from as far back as 193-6-Westminster Council v. Southern Railway Company and W.H. Smith and Son.

The VOA rated ports and properties within ports for the 2005 list based upon information supplied by the ports operators and indeed a significant number of separate assessments appeared in the rating lists for individual port occupiers at this stage, even before the ports review was initiated.

It was only after the list was compiled that-through routine work to keep the lists up to date-it was found that at Southampton Container Terminal the assessment for the 2000 list may not have correctly reflected the extent to which separate property within the Port of Southampton needed to be assessed. Action was therefore taken by the VOA to amend the list, but this action was strongly disputed by the other parties and legal and valuation argument followed: only once that appeal had been withdrawn, (in April 2006), were the VOA able to satisfy themselves of the correct approach in relation to certain types of port occupation and they immediately instigated the review of ports. Port operators were advised by letter of the ports review and its background in May 2006.

As a result of the review, which ended in 2008, 725 newly assessed properties were added to the ratings list. The decision to add each of these would have been made by the relevant valuation officer in each instance.

The review of ports by the Valuation Office Agency is to ensure that all individual business properties within and outside ports are rated fairly to ensure that the burden of contributions to funding local government is shared fairly among businesses around the country.

The Government have listened to the concerns of businesses with significant and unexpected backdated bills, including some businesses within ports. It has legislated to enable such bills to be repaid over an unprecedented eight years rather than in a single instalment, helping affected businesses to manage the impact on their cash flows during the downturn by reducing the amount they are required to pay now by 87.5 per cent.

As at October 8l 2009, local authorities have reported that ratepayers occupying 221 properties within ports had fully discharged their backdated liability and ratepayers occupying a further 200 business properties within ports had been granted a schedule of payments.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 2 March 2010, Official Report, columns 1152-3W, on non-domestic rates: ports, when the cumulo rating system was ended; by what means it was ended; and what notice was given to port owners of its ending. [321734]

Barbara Follett: There has been some confusion about the application of this system, which has not ended and is still in place. The term "cumulo" (artificial hereditament) is used to describe properties (hereditaments) within the same occupation (of the port authority), that under the normal rules of rating would be shown as individual entries, as a single entry in the rating list.

It is clear from the regulations governing the use of this technique (Regulation 5 of the Non-Domestic Rating Miscellaneous Provisions (2) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989/
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2303)) that it is a method for identifying a statutory port authority only and not for combining properties occupied by other businesses, under the same rateable value as the port authority.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many appeals have been lodged with (a) the Valuation Office Agency and (b) valuation tribunals against new business rate assessments for firms in ports; how many have been fast-tracked; how many have been concluded; and of those concluded how many have been upheld (i) in whole and (ii) in part. [323036]

Barbara Follett: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 20 January 2010, Official Report, column 387W.

Most proposals (appeals) are not specific about the particular issues they wish to challenge. The Valuation Office Agency is not therefore able to provide details as to which proposals that result in a change to the rating list were allowed (i) in whole or (ii) in part.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been issued to local authorities on the collection of backdated business rates from firms in ports. [323088]

Barbara Follett: The Valuation Office Agency has not issued guidance to local authorities on this matter. The Department has not issued specific guidance to local authorities regarding the collection of backdated liabilities for port based ratepayers. However, we have issued guidance and information on collecting monies under the eight year schedule of payments scheme through an information letter that can be found at:


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