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 Commissioner for Valuation has sole responsibility for all valuation matters, including determination under the Act of relevant property for the purposes of rates. The Valuation Act 2001 comes under the aegis of my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
Under the provisions of the Local Government (Rates) Act 1970, a rating authority may make and carry out a scheme providing for the waiver by the authority of all or a portion of commercial rates due by ratepayers in respect of a specified class or classes of property. The making of such a scheme is subject to the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.
Any application received for a rate waiver scheme is carefully considered. However, in considering any such application, it has to be borne in mind that a waiver of rates for one class of ratepayer could unfairly impact on existing businesses in the area by giving a competitive advantage to a certain group through a reduction in costs. In addition, the introduction of a waiver scheme could further increase costs on the part of businesses who are not part of the scheme, as it is likely that they would be required to make up the cost of the waiver scheme through the payment of additional rates. This could impose an additional burden on such ratepayers in what are already difficult economic circumstances.