Local business rates are volatile by their very nature and with the promise of 100% rates retention in lieu of revenue support grants and other funding being handed to Local Authorities by 2020, making sure you can maximise business rates collections should increasingly become a top priority.
We have been working with a number of Councils to develop a solution which captures their existing business rates collections and balance information and integrates this with independent third party data in one easily accessible, central portal. Why? Because this external data provides a snapshot of the health, wealth and trading statuses of all businesses in their Authority and with this intelligence comes the ability to better forecast, plan, budget and collect.
Outlined below are five areas we think will help authorities maximise their business rates collections capabilities in future.
1. Credit rating variances
Any Council should be able to drill down into specific business accounts to get a view of balance and last payments made but if you can cross reference this with the credit ratings awarded to that business and any recent variances which indicate a fall in ratings this can be a powerful tool. At a glance you can pull up a list of all businesses or commercial entities in your authority who have suffered a significant fall in credit rating which may indicate they are at risk. An authority can then take a more proactive approach to recovery.
2. Early warning alerts
Tracking suspect activity related to a business also needs to become more of a priority to help better identify risk and balance budgets. Setting up a system to flag outstanding county court judgements and rogue Company Directors or suspect registered offices and linking it back into your own data is a good start. Reports can be tailored to help you cross reference any county court judgements or suspicious activity against your list of biggest debtors so that potential defaulters can be identified more quickly and action taken to minimise risk.
3. Predictive modelling
Understanding the stability of businesses in your area and whether businesses are thriving or struggling is key to understanding the opportunities for economic development. If you can see at a glance the trading status across your entire portfolio mapping out what percentage of businesses are dissolved, insolvent or no longer trading you can budget more effectively for the future. The more detailed data you collect on this over time will lead to a predictive modelling approach, enabling you to predict which cases are likely to follow the path they have taken in previous years.
4. Business sector trend spotting
Categorising your business rates collections income by market sector and viewing outstanding balances by sector is a valuable way of identifying potential problems in a specific market area sooner. This is particularly important following the latest round of revaluations which will have led to some markets finding it harder going with higher rates to pay than ever before. If you can identify problem areas sooner you can redivert the collection efforts of your Officers or Bailiffs more proactively.
5. Up-to-date contact lists
The key to recovering debt and driving up collection rates is having access to the most up to date and accurate contact data related to a business and the Directors associated with it. Again using external data sources the very latest information can be captured and uploaded into a central system as part of a bulk update, reducing the need for time-consuming manual checks and ensuring your collections team, have access to the right data, first time.
Data sharing and collaboration has got to be a key investment for those Authorities who want to thrive in future and who truly understand the commitment they are undertaking when it comes to 100% rates retention.
If you want to maximise your collections capability implementing a solution which allows you to quickly and easily ingest external data to be used alongside your existing data is a must!
To find out more about the technology solutions we provide in this area please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us now on 01772 842092.