Some retailers and banks in Portadown are to benefit from a drop in rates while a number of pubs face a significant increase in their bills.
A new business rates valuation has been announced by Land and Property Services this week - the first shake up since 2015.
Chamber of Commerce President Adrian Farrell said the reduction in rates for some retailers was ‘a step in the right direction’.
However he voiced concerns at the sharp rise in rates for some businesses in the hospitality sector.
At least one licenced premises close to the town centre has seen their rateable value shoot up by almost 170% and will be expected to pay almost £11k extra per annum.
Another town centre bar will see a leap of 113% on their rates, and will be expected to pay more than £48k extra each year.
Even local churches will see a hike in rates with some payments rising by almost 12%.
Meanwhile at least one bank will have their rates reduced by more than 16% and will pay £10k per year less.
Many shops in Market Street have had their rates slashed substantially, some by as much as 20%. A kiosk in High Street Mall will have its annual rates reduced by half.
There doesn’t appear to be any change to the rates at the Meadows Shopping Centre while Rushmere Shopping Centre will see a rise of almost 15%.
At least one outlet in Magowan Buildings will have a rates rise of almost 44% though others will see no change. ASDA will benefit from a drop in rates from £1,008,000 to £913,000 - a drop of £95k. Tesco Extra in Craigavon will see a 20% drop in its bill from £1,298,000 to £1,027,000 - a decrease of £271k
Bucking the trend in the hospitality sector is the Seagoe Hotel which sees no change to its rateable value.
The Omniplex Cinema in Craigavon will see the rates rise by almost 82% from £110k to £200k.
Portadown Fire Station will also see a rates hike of almost 25% but Cascades Leisure Centre next door, which is due to close, will see a 25% drop in rates.
Portadown Health Centre will see a drop of almost 41% in rates in April down from £345,500 to £204,000 - a drop of £141,500.
Mr Farrell said: “I think this is a step in the right direction but I have concerns about the rise in rates in the hospitality sector.”
He added that there needed to be a ‘radical reform’ of the ‘flawed rates system’ and called for online retailers to contribute to the rates system.
In total draft valuations for all 7,600 businesses in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area have been published online.
Known as Reval2020 – this process will result in a new non-domestic Valuation List being used to calculate business rate bills from April 2020.
The Department of Finance said: “This process is about restoring fairness in the rating system by redistributing basically the same rating burden using more up-to-date values. A revaluation is not about collecting more money from businesses, but it is about ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.”
Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses, factories, hotels and pubs as well as utilities such as gas, water, electricity and wind farms.
The results show a modest growth in the total value in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area of 5.4% compared to the current Valuation List which is based on 2013 values.
Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary at Department of Finance said: “The revaluation means that from April, ratepayers will contribute to the funding of essential public services such as health, education and infrastructure as well as a wide range of council services relative to their 2018 rental value, instead of 2013 values as at present.
“The growth in the total value of the Valuation List does not translate into a corresponding overall increase in rate bills. I will be seeking to ensure that the regional business rate poundage that we set is lowered to reflect the overall growth in the Valuation List. I will also be encouraging councils to do the same in respect of district rate poundages reflecting the fact that revaluation is not about raising more revenue overall from rates.”
If rate poundages are adjusted downwards by both central government and district councils (before any necessary cost of inflation) this would mean up to 59% of business ratepayers would either see a reduction or little or no change in their rate bill.
Encouraging business ratepayers to view the draft schedule of values, Sue added: “I’m delighted that for the first time we are making the draft valuation list available on our Spatial NI platform. This will provide ratepayers with greater detail including a breakdown of how their value has been calculated as well as seeing the same information for similar properties in their local area and indeed for all similar properties across Northern Ireland. This approach makes the rating system much more transparent – which is absolutely the right thing to do.
“I would encourage business ratepayers to go online and view the new draft values for their properties ahead of rate bills issuing in April.”
Preliminary outcomes of the revaluation include:
a modest growth in the total value in Northern Ireland of 6.8%;
many high street shops and some shopping centres will see a decrease in rateable value, with some as much as 10%;
many of the edge of town retail parks will remain constant;
some of the largest food stores show a decrease in rateable value of between 5% and 15%;
the office sector shows an overall increase in rateable value of 8%; and
the pub trade will see considerable variation in values with notable decreases in some pubs and significant increases in some pubs in busy urban areas.
As well as being able to view their new valuation online at a time that suits them, business owners can come along and talk to the Reval2020 team at events across Northern Ireland to find out more about what their new valuation means for them.
View the draft schedule of values at www.finance-ni.gov.uk/reval-2020-ni
If ratepayers are unable to access the required information online they can contact LPS on Tel: 0300 200 7801.
LPS is encouraging ratepayers with queries about their new valuation to contact them.