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, I am acutely aware of the pressures on small and medium sized businesses at the present time. Local authorities have been asked by my Department to exercise restraint or, where possible, to reduce commercial rates and local charges for 2013 and have responded well to such requests in recent years. In 2013, 87 out of the 88 rating authorities either reduced their ARV or kept it the same as in 2012.
I will continue to keep the approach to rates by local authorities under active review, and am determined that every avenue will be pursued to optimise efficiency and contain costs in the local government sector.