Billing Resumes for Highland Ratepayers

Rates bills will be dropping through the letterboxes of non-domestic rate payers in Highland from next week.

Non-domestic rates are a tax on non-domestic properties to help pay for local council services.

These include services such as education, welfare, roads, business advice and waste management.

Non-domestic rates in Highland generates around £138m of vital income each year and will help the Council to drive forward its key priorities including economic recovery, community empowerment, digital transformation and service redesign.

In March, the Highland Council suspended billing for the current financial year to ease the prevailing financial pressures for ratepayers.

Since then, in excess of £62m of business grants have been paid to around 5,800 Highland businesses.

Eligible rate payers are encouraged to apply for a grant via the Council’s website by next month’s deadline on 10 July 2020.

In addition to these business grants, the Scottish Government has introduced a package of new rates reliefs to help owners and occupiers of non-domestic properties, including businesses, with the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Full details of the help that is available will be included when rates bills are issued next week and is available now on the Council’s website here.

This relief package includes a 1.6% relief that will be automatically applied to all non-domestic rates properties, and deducted from gross rates bills for 2020/21, and 100% relief for properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that meet the eligibility criteria. 

Some relief is automatically deducted by the Council from the rates bill whereas State Aid rules mean that the Scottish Government requires application forms to be submitted for others.

Ratepayers are being encouraged to apply for the help that is available to them as quickly as possible so that any reduction in their bill can be applied and a revised bill issued to them. 

This includes Transitional Relief, the Small Business Bonus Scheme, Renewable Energy Relief for qualifying hydro schemes and relief for Reverse Vending Machines.

Alasdair Christie, Depute Leader and Chair of the Council’s Recovery Board commented:

“Raising awareness for ratepayers about the relief and other help that is available, and encouraging them to claim, is important as this will reduce the tax burden for many ratepayers, helping them to concentrate their efforts on restoring and developing their commercial and non-commercial activities.

“Ratepayers will also continue to make a much needed and valuable contribution to supporting recovery of the Highland economy now and in future years.”

Ratepayers are encouraged to pay monthly by Direct Debit to March 2021 as this will spread the financial impacts on their activities. 

Any ratepayers that are having difficulty making payments, should contact the Rates Team to discuss a payment plan over a longer period.

Alister Mackinnon, Budget Leader said:

“Some ratepayers have continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and others will be returning on a phased basis as we ease out of lockdown. 

My advice to all ratepayers is to read the information leaflet that will be enclosed with their bill and to claim all support that is available to them. 

If anyone is in doubt, they should email the Council’s Rates Team for advice at nondomesticrates@highland.gov.uk.”

He added:

“Non-domestic rates income is the Council’s second largest single income stream, supporting the diverse range of services delivered by the Council for households and business.

“It is therefore essential that we let ratepayers know how much to pay for 2020/21.”