1. What are drainage rates?
Drainage rates are levied as a charge (at a rate of Xp in the £1) on agricultural properties in an internal drainage district. The rates are levied to pay for the special local drainage or flood protection works which are carried out by the internal drainage board of that district. The value on which rates are set basically represents 1991 land rental levels.
2. Why have I got to pay drainage rates?
These rates are payable because you occupy agricultural property within an internal drainage district. These districts are areas where special local measures are needed to properly manage flood risk. These measures, involving maintenance, improvement or new works to watercourses or structures are managed by an internal drainage board and these boards levy rates on occupiers of property to meet their expenses.
3. I don’t get a drainage rate bill for my house
Properties which are not used for agricultural purposes (as defined in the Local Government Finance Act 1988) do not receive a direct drainage rate demand. Rates are however, effectively charged on these properties through the Special Levy issued to the local authority.
4. My land is not used for agriculture.
Agricultural use includes uses such as for paddocks and, to be rated, the land does not need to be used as part of an agricultural business. If however, you still feel that your land is not used for agriculture please contact the Rates Office, who will arrange an inspection.
5. Why have I received 2 rate demands from you for my land?
Within the Middle Level Commissioners’ area, land is double rated, being rated both by the Commissioners and the local internal drainage board, for their respective works. Each issues a separate demand for rates and therefore each issues a demand for each parcel of land, in their areas.
6. Why are you charging me rates? I have no watercourses on my land.
Rates are payable because your property is in an internal drainage district and they meet the costs of the arterial protection provided by the Board of that district. They are not charged because you do, or do not, have watercourses on your land.
7. Who is responsible for maintaining the watercourses running through my land?
The primary responsibility for the maintenance of any watercourse rests with the owner of that watercourse. This will USUALLY be the owner of the land adjoining that watercourse. Where a channel is marked as an IDB drain, that Board’s byelaws apply to it and the Board will often undertake required drainage works. The Land Drainage Act 1991, under which the Boards operate, however, enables them BUT DOES NOT REQUIRE THEM to carry out drainage works.
8. When are my drainage rates due for payment?
Legally, they are due for payment IMMEDIATELY ie by return of post.
9. Why then is the date of 31st October mentioned?
For Middle Level Commissioners’ rates, the LAST POSSIBLE DATE on which they can be RECEIVED at this office, without incurring the penalty imposed by the Middle Level Acts, is 31st October. This is NOT the DUE DATE for payment.
10. Can I pay all my rates bills on one cheque?
No. The demands are issued by separate authorities and each must be separately paid.
11. What methods of payment are there?
At present, we accept cash, cheque, bank transfer, bank giro, direct debit and credit/debit card payments.
12. I am likely to have a problem in paying my rates. By when do I need to advise you of this?
If this is the case, you must advise us by 15th October in the relevant year.
13. Why have I been charged a penalty? I posted my rate cheque/paid my rates at the bank before 31st October.
Your rate monies MUST BE RECEIVED by us not later than 31st October to avoid the penalty. Dates of posting or bank payment are NOT RELEVANT.
14. How can you justify such a large penalty? I was only a few days late in paying.
The penalty date is NOT the due date for payment. See questions 8, 9 and 13 above. The amount of the penalty is fixed by statute.
15. I have a query on my rate demand. By when do I need to raise it to be able to have this year’s demand adjusted?
Not later than 30th September in the relevant year.
16. I sold my land some months ago, why are you charging me a full year’s rates?
Section 49 of the Land Drainage Act 1991 provides that anyone in occupation of land for any part of a year can be required to pay rates for the whole of that year. However, they then have the right to recover a proportionate part of the rates paid from anyone else who has occupied the land during that year. By ‘year’ we mean the financial year, running from 1st April to 31st March. Your solicitor should have attended to this as part of the sale transaction.
17. I only bought my land/became tenant of this land a few months ago, why are you charging me a full year’s rates?
See question 16 above.
18. I have sold/given up my land. What evidence of this will you need to alter your records?
We will need either a formal letter from a suitably qualified professional eg solicitor or surveyor or evidence of the transaction itself eg sight of Land Certificate or Lease.