LPS offices and Customer Information Centres will remain closed until further notice. Most phone helplines are open. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org (for queries about your rate bill), email@example.com (for property valuation queries) or CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk (for land registry queries). The Ordnance Survey helpline remains closed however you can email Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk for mapping queries. You can keep up to date with available services at the Department of Finance website.
Issue of rate bills
Due to coronavirus, domestic rate bills will arrive by June instead of in April 2020 when people usually get their rates bills. The domestic regional rate has also been frozen for 2020-21.
Non-domestic rate payers will receive a four-month rate holiday, and bills will issue in July.
These measures are to help avoid placing financial pressure on ratepayers.
Domestic ratepayers can still choose to pay their bill in monthly instalments between June 2020 and March 2021. Monthly Direct Debit payment plans will be automatically updated to collect payments between June 2020 and March 2021.
Non-domestic ratepayers will not be charged for the months of April - July 2020.
2020-21 rate bills
Rate bills will assess rates due from 1 April 2020 until 31 March 2021. There is no rate holiday for domestic customers however the domestic regional rate has been frozen for the year 2020-21.
This means the cost of the regional rate for domestic customers will be no higher for 2020-21 than in 2019-20, however the cost of the district rate will change based on the district rate set by your District Council.
A 4% early payment discount will continue to be available to domestic ratepayers, and the discount date will be clearly shown on the rate bill.
Recovery action on debt and arrears
No new recovery action for either domestic or non-domestic debt will be initiated until the current crisis has passed.
Existing recovery actions will not be cancelled, but activity will be suspended and ratepayers will not be actively pursued until the current crisis has passed.
Help with rates
There are a wide range of rate support schemes in place to help people pay their rates. Over 25 per cent of households in Northern Ireland get some kind of support, with the majority of these paying no rates at all.
These schemes include:
- Housing Benefit for rates, which is for people on not eligible to apply for Universal Credit, such as those receiving a Severe Disability Premium, living in supported accommodation or have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit
- Low Income Rate Relief, which supplements Housing Benefit
- the Rate Rebate Scheme for those on Universal Credit. People who unfortunately find themselves out of work or whose income drops because of the COVID-19 crisis may be eligible for this scheme.
- Lone Pensioner Allowance
- Disabled Person’s Allowance
- Help with rates
The Make the Call service can also provide comprehensive advice on the benefits, reliefs and supports that are available in Northern Ireland.
They can be contacted on freephone 0800 232 1271 or at this link:
Help for business ratepayers
Several new rates measures have been introduced.