Step 3 Dealing with your priority debts

​Business rates


do not stop paying

You should not stop paying your business rates just because you feel that the valuation is wrong. You have to keep paying the set rate until the valuation is changed.

The amount of business rates (sometimes called non- domestic rates) you have to pay for business premises
is based on the rateable value, which is calculated during a valuation carried out by the district valuer.

Can I reduce my bill?

If you want to appeal against the rateable value, you should do this within six months of taking over the business premises.

It is a good idea to get professional advice from a specialist in this field if you are thinking about making an appeal. Phone your council’s valuation office for a list of reputable firms in your area and be very careful when dealing with firms who approach you first.


types of relief

For the range of different reliefs available, see

It may be possible to claim a range of different reliefs to reduce the amount you have to pay for business rates. You may even be able to ask the local authority to grant up to 100% relief. You have to demonstrate that you would suffer severe hardship if you had to pay business rates and that it is in the interests of other ratepayers for them to grant relief. The local authority will usually only grant 100% relief if you supply an important service to the local community, and only in extreme circumstances.

If you stop trading, but are still responsible for your business lease, you may still have to pay business rates.

What happens if I don’t pay?

The council will usually tell you to pay your bill in 10 monthly instalments but they may also accept weekly payments.

You can also ask the council to let you pay your bill in 12 monthly instalments. If at any time you find that you can’t pay the full monthly instalment, don’t just stop paying!

  • Keep paying what you can afford.
  • Contact the council and try to come to an arrangement. Use Your budget to help explain your situation.

If you don’t keep to any payment arrangement you make with the council, they may apply to the magistrates’ court to make a ‘liability order’. This is the same process that is used to recover unpaid council tax.

Council tax

Further action against you by the council

Once the council have got a liability order, there are a number of ways they can make you pay. This includes sending bailiffs to your business premises or home.

Even if they have a liability order, it is not too late to try to make an arrangement to pay. Contact the council as soon as possible if you have not paid or agreed a payment arrangement with them.

See our fact sheet:

Business rates.

Other types of action the council may consider include bankruptcy. They may even apply to the magistrates’ court for an order that you be sent to prison. The court can only do this if you have refused to pay, or neglected to pay, even though you had the money to do so. If you are concerned about this type of action, contact us for advice.


You may be able to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Ombudsman if the council have not behaved properly or if they have not followed the proper procedure. You will need to complain to your local council first.