Laura Sharman 28 August 2018

Councils sending bailiffs to 200 firms every day over unpaid business rates

Councils are sending bailiffs to more than 200 businesses every day due to unpaid rates, a new investigation has revealed.

A freedom of information request by Altus Group found that during 2017/18, over 81,000 business premises were referred to bailiffs by local councils due to non-payment of rates.

The investigation found that nearly one in every 15 commercial property with a bill faced having their goods seized by bailiffs, up from 6% the year before.

'Councils are taking enforcement action much earlier since their finances became more aligned to business rates income,' said Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group.

'This sometimes leads to companies with manifestly incorrect demands receiving summonses and facing enforcement action. The problem is also exacerbated by understaffing within some councils and the inordinate delays that this creates in dealing with ratepayers.'

According to the findings Birmingham City Council referred the most premises to bailiffs at 3,864, although this is down from 4,414 in 2016/17. This was followed by Manchester City Council who referred 2,667 business premises to bailiffs, up 38% from 1,932 in 2016/17.

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