Leeds city council makes information about business rates freely available on the Leeds data mill. This is a forward thinking approach to reducing freedom of information requests. By publishing open data, the council saves money, gives the public much needed transparency, and provides a wealth of information to businesses investing in Leeds. But what’s included and how can you create value with it? This is the missing guide to using the business rates open data.Let’s see what’s included.
Since April 2014, Leeds city council has published spreadsheets, roughly every 2 months, to the business rates page.
What’s in Every rateable premises in Leeds including: the address, what the premises is used for, who’s responsible for paying the rate, the rateable value and a selection of relevant discounts (relief) given. It also tells you if a property is empty (as far as the council knows).
What’s not Any premises that are actually home addresses. So breathe easy. If you’ve registered your business premises at home, you won’t be on this list. However, mistakes do happen, so contact the business rates team to correct them.
How good is the information? Pretty good! I looked through the latest file published on the 2nd of March 2015. I found a couple of problems with postcodes, which I emailed to the open data team. They’ll be fixed in the next release. That’s one great thing about the Leeds data mill, they listen and respond promptly to feedback. When it comes to discounts however, treat them with a pinch of salt. Not everything is included and it would be hellishly complex if it were. There is enough information for most uses, but use the discounts as ball-park figures. Another thing to note: the Retail Relief information mixes retail and other forms of relief. Retail relief is capped at £1,500.
Read on for an in-depth examination.
Ratepayer This is the organisation “entitled to possession”. In other words, the occupier, leaseholder or owner of the premises, depending on if it’s empty or not. Remember: Individuals are usually excluded from this open data publication to protect their privacy.
Billing Authority Reference This is gold! This number is the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) billing authority reference number. It’s unique to each premises which makes it an authoritative reference number. Think of this as an iron clad way of making sure you aren’t mixing up premises. You can use this number to find out everything you wanted to know about the premises, using the VOA’s “find my property valuation”.
Liable From The date the current ratepayer was charged from.
Rateable Value The current value as rated by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). It’s the maximum amount to pay but can be reduced by applying for one or more discounts.
Mandatory relief (%) This is a discount that is always applied for certain types of organisations like registered charities, including colleges and public schools, at 80%. There’s a 50% rural relief available for businesses in rural areas with a low population. Find out more about: relief from business rates.
Discretionary relief (%) The council can, at it’s discretion, use this rate to top up the mandatory relief, sometimes up to 100%. This is mostly approved for sports clubs, the arts, social enterprises, and not for profit organisations like hospices.
Small Business Rate Relief (%) This is another form of relief for small businesses.