IHF urges ‘pay what you can afford’ in rates row
Despite the changed circumstances for small businesses in these trying times, only three of the 88 rateable areas in the country have had rateable valuation revisions by the Valuation Office or local authority, it has emerged despite the enactment of the Valuation Act 2001.
Various letters requesting revaluation to the Valuation Office and local authorities have fallen on deaf ears, according to the Irish Hotels Federation which recently appealed to local authorities to introduce a 30 per cent waiver on rates for hotels and guesthouses while a countrywide revaluation of rates is underway by the Valuation Office.
Following a meeting of its National Council, up-in-arms members of the IHF are considering paying only what they can afford in rates until such time as a revision takes place.
According to IHF President Paul Gallagher, “Every other supplier and business in the country understands the severity of the economic situation and what needs to be done to keep businesses alive and find workable solutions – the Minister for the Environment, The Valuation Office and local authorities are simply ignoring or rejecting these reasonable approaches to them”.
The IHF President has called on the Minister for the Environment to immediately instruct local authorities to introduce a rates waiver for hoteliers who simply do not have the funds to pay, he says. In particular, he urged local authorities not to take legal proceedings which could force hotels or guesthouses to close or go into receivership or liquidation.
“In order to survive, hotels nationwide have already implemented severe cost cutting measures,” he stated, “These include wage reductions, cutting staff roster hours, renegotiating supplier contracts and deferring renovation and investments. Every single cost area has been seriously examined and reduced in a bid for keeping the business afloat”.
According to Paul Gallagher a mechanism in the past, where struggling hotels could seek a reduction in valuation for local authority rates purposes due to worsening economic trading circumstances, was removed with the enactment of the Valuation Act 2001. This Act promised that all rateable properties throughout the country would have had their valuations revised every five to 10 years. Nine years later, only three (of the 88) rating authorities have carried out the revision process and two of those undertaken had rates payable by hotels reduced by an average of over 30 per cent.
However in a number of cases, local councils have stepped in. It’s understood, for example, that in South Dublin rates have been revalued and some 40 per cent of premises have seen a reduction while 35 per cent have seen an increase and a further 20 per cent have witnessed no change.
Dublin City are scheduled to revalue this Autumn while Fingal has shown a responsiveness to the economic situation by reducing its multiplier by 10.4 per cent.
Meanwhile Dublin City has reduced its multiplier by 2.2 per cent and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown by two per cent.
According to LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, "The LVA warmly welcomes the reductions applied by Fingal County Council and considers that move to be very pro-business in these challenging times".
It’s understood that the ability to undertake a rates revaluation nationally is “a matter of resources”.