Business rates: what do hotel owners need to know?

Published on: 7th December 2016

In what has been billed as the biggest change in a generation, the process of the 2017 business rates revaluation is well under way. Simon Heather, partner and rating expert, explains how hotels are likely to be impacted.

Most businesses are likely to experience a change in their business rates as a result of the 2017 business rates revaluation. This is because the valuation date is set two years before the last revaluation and since there has not been a revaluation since 1st April 2010, local authorities in England and Wales are still basing their business rates bills on 2008 figures. This will change next year, as all non-domestic properties in England and Wales will be reassessed based on a valuation date of 1st April 2015.

The hotel and leisure market has generally experienced a roller coaster of fortunes over recent years. It is now generally accepted that there was a fairly significant lag in the industry between the wider general economic problems and trading performance and values within the sector. The first half of 2008 was characterised by many operators and, to a large extent, funders talking of stable conditions within the sector with room rates and occupancy figures all holding up.

This contrasted markedly with the latter part of 2008, where statistics generally indicated that occupancy, room rates, REVPAR and profits were all in heavy decline. This is generally regarded as the beginning of what was been four years of very difficult trading conditions in the sector, particularly in respect of independent hoteliers who have found their occupancy and room rates squeezed by the rise in prominence of budget hoteliers such as Travelodge and Premier Inn.

The first thing to note is that those hotels that have seen a change in their income between 2008 and 2015 will see a change in their new rateable value. However, as well as a change in assessment to reflect the economic conditions, the new assessment should also reflect any physical changes to the property - such as additional rooms or new facilities.

Clearly, hotel operators are one sector that will have been penalised as a result of the government’s decision to delay the revaluation by two years until 2017. Had the 2015 revaluation been undertaken, we would have expected to see significant falls across the board. The economic recovery since 2014 is likely to mean that revenues are more in line with the pre-recession position – meaning that many assessments are likely to remain on par.

What happens next?

Although the draft rateable values have now been published, hotels will not be able to calculate their new business rates until the Government announces the multiplier in January. New rates bills will be issued on 1st March 2017 and the revaluation comes into effect from 1st April.

The important thing is to seek advice from a qualified rating advisor as soon as possible to make sure you are not paying over the odds. They can assess your draft rateable values and analyse whether you are entitled to a reduction in your business rates.

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Business Rates

Sanderson Weatherall Rating specialists are RICS and IRRV qualified surveyors that can offer a comprehensive range of Rating services to clients including Rating Appeals, Rating Valuations, Rates Management and Rates Audit, together with cutting edge advice on Empty Rates mitigation. Regarded as experts in the field, all our senior staff are members of the Rating Surveyors' Association and are able to offer the very best Rates advice on the accuracy of Rating assessments and resultant Business Rates liabilities. Through our experts' memberships of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation we are also happy to assist clients who have international local property tax liabilities. We participate in the activities of both of these professional bodies at the highest level and negotiate with government on the introduction of all new non domestic rating proposals. On the 1st April 2017 the new rating lists were published across England and Wales and from that date, businesses looking to challenge their business rates were required to do so through HMRC’s Government Gateway. If you don’t currently have an account then please follow the steps in our guide to setting up a Government Gateway account, registering properties and appointing an agent here.    Contact Us

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Sanderson Weatherall Rating specialists are RICS and IRRV qualified surveyors that can offer a comprehensive range of Rating services to clients including Rating Appeals, Rating Valuations, Rates Management and Rates Audit, together with cutting edge advice on Empty Rates mitigation.

Regarded as experts in the field, all our senior staff are members of the Rating Surveyors' Association and are able to offer the very best Rates advice on the accuracy of Rating assessments and resultant Business Rates liabilities. Through our experts' memberships of the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation we are also happy to assist clients who have international local property tax liabilities. We participate in the activities of both of these professional bodies at the highest level and negotiate with government on the introduction of all new non domestic rating proposals.

On the 1st April 2017 the new rating lists were published across England and Wales and from that date, businesses looking to challenge their business rates were required to do so through HMRC’s Government Gateway.

If you don’t currently have an account then please follow the steps in our guide to setting up a Government Gateway account, registering properties and appointing an agent here. 

 

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The impacts and shortcomings of the Autumn Statement

Robert Brown, partner in our business rates team, considers the impact of the Autumn Statement. Robert said: “Some of the eye-catching announcements in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement were those relating to technology.  As well as allocating £1 billion for improvements to the UK’s digital infrastructure, the government will introduce 100 per cent business rates relief for new fibre optic broadband infrastructure.

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Robert Brown, partner in our business rates team, considers the impact of the Autumn Statement.

Robert said: “Some of the eye-catching announcements in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement were those relating to technology. 

As well as allocating £1 billion for improvements to the UK’s digital infrastructure, the government will introduce 100 per cent business rates relief for new fibre optic broadband infrastructure.

[fulltext] =>

This will allay the fears of those companies who expected to see their business rates increase significantly following the recent rates revaluation, and will certainly give the industry a boost.

“However, aside from confirming the previously-announced £6.7 billion business rates reduction package and increasing rural rate relief from 50 per cent to 100 per cent and thereby correcting a long-standing anomaly, there was no further clarification on business rates.

“With the revaluation of commercial property for business rates due to come into force in April next year, we had hoped Mr Hammond would use this platform to provide details of the system which will be in place after April 2017.

“This is causing uncertainty in the market as businesses cannot confidently predict their occupational costs, so I sincerely hope that the Chancellor will clarify this soon and provide UK businesses with the details they require to plan ahead.

“Also, one of the key measures confirmed by Mr Hammond is that he will fund investments in large infrastructure projects including both road and rail improvements across the UK. 

“Several of these projects will require the purchase of larges areas of land before any work can be undertaken, so both homeowners and businesses can expect to see more compulsory purchase activity from acquiring authorities such as The Highway Agency, HS2 and TfL.”

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Budget 2016 Business Rates Highlights

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne gave his budget to Parliament today. Here are the headlines for business rates:

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne gave his budget to Parliament today. Here are the headlines for business rates:

[fulltext] =>

Key Facts from the Budget 2016

    • From April 2017 for properties below a rateable value of £12,000 qualifying businesses will pay nothing; between £12,000 and £15,000 there will be taper relief; and between £18,000 and £51,000 there will be a marginally lower rate poundage charged.
      • It is claimed by the government that 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates.
      • The government will transform business rates billing and collection. By 2022, local authority business rate systems will be linked to HMRC digital tax accounts so that businesses can manage their rates bills in one place alongside other taxes. As a first step, the government will work with local authorities across England to standardise business rate bills and ensure ratepayers have the option to receive and pay bills online by April 2017.
      •  The government will aim to introduce more frequent business rate revaluations (at least every 3 years) and will publish a discussion paper in March 2016 outlining options on how to achieve this to support both businesses and the stability of local authority funding.
      • The rate poundage will be linked to CPI rather than RPI from 2020.

      • Rates retention will move towards 100% for Greater London from April 2017

Our opinion 

Robert Brown BSc FRICS FIRRV, partner in our business rates department and current president of The Rating Surveyors Association commented:

"Rates bills for 2016-17 have already been issued so there are no immediate cuts in business rates.

A welcome and slightly better than expected announcement from the chancellor with regard to the small business rate threshold increasing from £6,000 to £15,000 - meaning that many more qualifying businesses will pay no rates whatsoever from 2017.

The Chancellor said that the higher rate threshold will increase from £18,000 to £51,000 and this will have a benefit for slightly larger business properties. Needless to say the devil will be in the detail as there are qualifying requirements and the focus may well move now to question exactly what is a small business – as rateable value of a property is a measure of rent paid rather than turnover. There is also a potential issue when comparing a business with multiple small properties with a business with a single property.

The claim is that from next April 2017 some 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all , a further quarter of a million will see their rates cut, and half of all properties will see their rates either fall or be abolished altogether. Interesting as to whether the chancellor is predicting the outcome of the Rating Revaluation?

Rate retention to be 100% for Greater London from 2017 but why not every local authority?"

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