Bailiffs target 41,000 companies following rising business rates

A new report by the Altus Group has revealed that councils are increasingly giving bailiffs power to enter businesses, seize goods and sell them to settle debts.

Based on freedom of information requests, the 41,000 figure covers the number of referrals from April to September 2017 - the first five months when the revaluation was in force.

The London Boroughs of Hounslow and Lewisham referred the most, according to the research, with one in 11 of the overall premises in their areas referred to bailiffs for enforcement. Businesses in the boroughs have seen the biggest increases, seeing rateable values soar by 25.09 per cent, while the increase has been 31.83 per cent in Lewisham.

The government has urged councils to be ‘proportionate in enforcement and use bailiffs only as a last resort’.

Alex Probyn, UK president of business rates at Altus Group, said: “It isn’t only those whose values have increased that are struggling. The current, deeply unfair, system of transitional adjustment severely limits the amount by which bills can go down, meaning many businesses are paying disproportionately high bills in locations where local economies are underperforming and values are falling.”

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