Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority. The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation for each property determined by the Valuation Office to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function. However, in recent years local authorities have been urged by my Department to exercise restraint or, where possible, to reduce commercial rates. Local authorities have responded well to such requests. The latest available figures indicate that ARVs for 2013 have decreased nationwide on average by 0.33% compared to 2012. This follows a similar decrease of 0.31% in 2012, 0.64% in 2011 and 0.62% in 2010.
Local authorities have a leading role at local level in creating a pro-enterprise supportive environment to generate new jobs and sustain existing ones. They are committed to local economic development, and are well placed to respond to many of the needs of businesses, in terms of infrastructure, local promotion and other key enabling measures. Under the Action Plan for Jobs, the local government sector has developed a sectoral strategy, Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally, to promote employment and support local enterprise, including measures in the area of business charges, local enterprise and business support arrangements, procurement support, local development and community based initiatives, the Green Economy and participation in employment support schemes. I recognise that these are difficult economic times for many businesses and I am continuing to keep all matters relating to rates under regular consideration in my Department.