In the UK, a local government tax levied on industrial and commercial property (business rates) and, until the introduction of the community charge (see poll tax) 1989–90, also on residential property to pay for local amenities such as roads, footpaths, refuse collection and disposal, and community and welfare activities. The water companies also use a rating system to charge most householders for water supply.
The rate for a household with several wage-earners might be identical with that for a single person of retirement age, and rebates were given to ratepayers whose income fell below a certain level. The Conservative government of 1979–1997 curbed high-spending councils by cutting the government supplementary grant aid to them and limiting the level of rate that could be levied (ratecapping), and in 1989–90 replaced the rate with a community charge or poll tax on each individual (introduced in Scotland in 1989 and England in 1990). This in turn was superseded by a council tax in 1993, based on property values but taking into account the number of occupiers.
In 1990 the UK government revised all valuations of business property in England and Wales as part of its new Uniform Business Rate. All commercial property users were to pay 34.8% of the valuation. Rates were revalued proportionately higher in the south than the north.
The Valuation Office Agency has since carried out a revaluation of all business properties every five years, the most recent of which came into effect on 1 April 2005.
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