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Business given time to pay rates

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Legislation to help businesses facing unexpected backdated business rate bills during the recession has been unveiled.

Businesses from across all sectors occupying up to 1,500 properties will be able to spread the payment of backdated rate bills in equal, interest-free instalments over eight years.

Local Government Minister John Healey said: “This is an unprecedented time-to-pay scheme which will help businesses faced with such backdated tax liabilities during this current economic downturn.

“Allowing businesses, including ports-based companies, to spread payment of those bills over eight years will help them keep their heads above water.

The move follows the chancellor's announcement in the pre-budget report of help for companies facing these backdated rates bills.

It covers the 569 properties within English ports that face separate liability and significant backdated business rates bills for the first time as a result of the Valuation Office Agency recently completed review of ports.

The government has, however, ruled out waiving the backdated tax liability for these ports-based companies, which ministers do not have the power to do for any business taxes.

The changes are on top of other help for all companies through the downturn, including free business health checks, and a pledge from Government to aim to pay suppliers within 10 days.

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