Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that is going ahead with a rating revaluation in 2015; the proposed revaluations in England, Wales and Scotland having been postponed. The Northern Ireland Government had cancelled its 2010 rating revaluation but had undertaken to go ahead in 2015 and was therefore placed in a difficult position when the other UK governments took their decisions to postpone. The Northern Ireland government decided to continue with its revaluation, undertaken by Land and Property Services (LPS) which is part of the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland.
The results of that revaluation have now been published by LPS on its website – there will be no written communication of these new values sent to ratepayers. The rateable values are in draft form at present and will only come into effect on 1 April 2015. They are intended to represent rental values at 1 April 2013 which is the valuation date. They will replace the current rateable values which have been in force since 2003 and are based on a 2001 valuation date. Overall the new rateable values show an aggregate increase of approximately 8% over the previous figures but, within this aggregate figure, there are significant variances by location and by property class. Some town and city centre retail properties have seen values reduce substantially, whilst out of town retail properties show sharp increases. This pattern of local variances is reflected across other property classes such as offices and industrials. Only utilities, such as the power industry, seem to show across the board increases, but even these vary between one property and another.
The main concern for ratepayers will be how these changes will affect their rates liability, but it will be difficult to assess this until the rate poundages are announced next February. Even that process will be more complicated than usual, because the current 26 local government districts are to be reorganised from 1 April next year into 11 new local government districts. Rate poundages in Northern Ireland are still set locally and are not linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) as in England. The current poundages vary from 52.0 pence in Castlereagh to 65.5 pence in Moyle – a variance of more than 25% between the highest and lowest figures. Ratepayers might expect that, with an 8% increase in total rateable value, rate poundages would reduce by at least 5% but the change from one district to another may more than offset this.
So there are likely to be some concerns for those trying to budget for rates next year in Northern Ireland until the announcement of the new rate poundages in February 2015. In the meantime rateapayers are advised to check the LPS website for their new rateable values and our External Resources page will help you find the link to this.