An estimated190,000 non-domestic premises in England, including, pubs and restaurants, were taken to court for non-payment of their business rates during the 2018/19 financial year, according to new research by Altus.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, all councils in England were asked to provide details of how many businesses had been summonsed between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019. Details were provided on 1,740,073 out of the 1,933,963 non-domestic properties liable for business rates.
The findings revealed a total of 171,018 summons were issued, totalling 9.83% of all premises.
As a result, real estate firm Altus Group has forecast that the overall number is likely to have been in the region of 190,070, equating to around 750 businesses every working day.
The top five summonsing councils, by volume, were Westminster (6,882); Birmingham (6,166); Manchester (5,228); Liverpool (4,254) and Leeds (3,497).
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, said that the government’s reliance upon property for tax revenues is too great, with the findings going beyond simple tax avoidance, explaining “with 1,255,800 of non domestic premises actually having rates liabilities to pay, in real terms 15.14% of firms, almost 1 in every 6 with an actual bill, received a summons to appear before a Magistrate during the last year.”
Hayton added “a tax stimulus was desperately needed” saying “major retail and hospitality businesses were reducing their estates and headcount, often citing high level of rates as a contributory factor whilst other sectors, such as manufacturing, were hurting too.”
A Government spokesman said ministers are committed to assisting small businesses on the high street and are cutting business rates by £13bn over the next five years.
“Our £3.6bn towns fund announced by the Prime Minister last month will support towns and town centres, allowing them to attract greater footfall, jobs and investment,” he added.
“This includes making £1bn available as part of the future high streets fund to directly help high streets adapt to the changes we are seeing in shopping habits.”