Are business rates in Larne the same as Regent Street in London?

CLAIM: Business rates on Main Street in Larne are the same as Regent Street in London.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE. Higher property values in Regent Street mean that average rates are much higher there than Main Street in Larne.

In an article published by Belfast Live, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster, claimed that business rates in Larne are comparable with those in London. The article discusses Neill’s response to the current shortage of staff in the hospitality sector.

“Our business rates are the highest in the UK and we have higher energy costs. People keep saying to me — you’re nearly the same price as London — [but] we have the same costs. Larne’s business rates on the main street are the same as Regent Street in London.”

What are business rates?

Business rates are property taxes paid on non-domestic properties such as offices and shops. Business rates are based on the “rateable value” of a property.

What is the business rate in London?

In England and Wales, the rateable value of a property is based on its open market rental value on 1 April 2015, using an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency. A “multiplier” is then applied to the property valuation to calculate the annual rates payable. Some ratepayers may then be eligible for schemes such as small business rate relief, which discount the rates payable.

In the 2020/21 and 2021/22 fiscal years, the following multipliers have been applied to calculate business rates from the rateable value:

    • 51.2p on properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or more; and
    • 49.9p on properties with a rateable value less than £51,000.

Business rate reliefs are available, including the small business rate relief. As business properties increase in value from £12,000 to £15,000, the relief shrinks from 100% to 0%.

What is the business rate in Larne?

The calculation of business rates in Northern Ireland differs from the methodology used in England and Wales.

Rates on non-domestic properties in Northern Ireland are based on its assessed rental value, or Net Annual Value (NAV) as at the 1st of April 2018.

There are, in effect, two different multipliers (or “poundages”) that are applied on non-domestic properties. One rate is levied by the Northern Ireland Executive, and is the same across Northern Ireland. Another rate is levied by each local authority in Northern Ireland, and varies by council area.

The poundages across Northern Ireland are shown in the table below.

Council area

Non-domestic district rate (£)

Non-domestic regional rate (£)

Total Non-domestic rate poundage (£)

Antrim and Newtownabbey

0.240426

0.279000

0.519426

Ards and North Down

0.231730

0.279000

0.510730

Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon

0.254413

0.279000

0.533413

Belfast

0.259166

0.279000

0.538166

Causeway Coast & Glens

0.248603

0.279000

0.527603

Derry City & Strabane

0.303794

0.279000

0.582794

Fermanagh & Omagh

0.218231

0.279000

0.497231

Lisburn & Castlereagh

0.226611

0.279000

0.505611

Mid & East Antrim

0.309186

0.279000

0.588186

Mid Ulster

0.234749

0.279000

0.513749

Newry, Mourne and Down

0.236209

0.279000

0.515209

Larne falls into the Mid and East Antrim Council area, which has a total non-domestic rate poundage of 58.8p, the highest rate in Northern Ireland.

Additional reliefs available on businesses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Small business rates relief in Northern Ireland differs from England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, business properties with a Net Annual Value of less than £15,000 will receive relief of at least 20%.

Are business rates the same on the Main Street of Larne as Regent Street in London?

Despite the non-domestic rate poundage (or multiplier) being higher in the Mid and East Antrim Council area than the equivalent rate in England, business rates in Regent Street are on average much higher. This is because the assessed rateable value of properties in Regent Street are typically much higher.

Based on data provided by the Valuation Office Agency, there are 784 non-domestic properties on Regent Street in London with a rateable value. The average rateable value was around £198k, and applying the relevant poundages suggests annual average rates of around £101k before reliefs. Because of the high average rateable value of properties on Regent Street, applying small business rates relief where applicable would only reduce average rates by a small amount, to around £100k.

Data provided by Northern Ireland Land and Property Services for Main Street in Larne shows the rateable value of properties on Main Street are on average much lower than Regent Street. The average non-exempt Net Annual Value of the 125 non-domestic properties in Larne is £9,842, with average rates before reliefs working out around £5.8k; if the relevant small business rates relief is applied, average rates would fall to around £5.1k.

Furthermore, it is difficult to make like-for-like comparisons between Main Street in Larne and Regent Street in London because the nature of the properties are very different.

The property with the highest rateable value on Regent Street is the flagship Apple store at 235 Regent Street with a rateable value of £4.4m. On Main Street in Larne the property with the highest NAV is the former Dunnes Stores at 35-41 Main Street with a rateable value of £140,500.

A Tesco Metro at 17 Regent Street has a rateable value of £745,000, while a Tesco Express at 32 Main Street in Larne has an NAV of £23,900.

Despite the multipliers — or “poundage” — on non-domestic properties in Larne being higher than the equivalent rates in London, far higher commercial rents in the West End of London mean that rates in Regent Street are on average much higher than they are on Main Street in Larne.


FactCheckNI is Northern Ireland’s first and only dedicated independent fact-checking service and a verified signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can learn more about about FactCheckNI, our personnel, what our article verdicts mean, and how to submit a claim.