Valuation Office Agency to cut jobs despite thousands of outstanding appeals

Published on: 21st August 2017

Over the weekend, it was publicised by the government that they are poised to announce a number of job cuts at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), the government department that deals with business rates.

The plans to downsize will see three-quarters of the VOA’s senior officers axed as the closure of 19 of the 50 regional offices is expected over the next three years. The announced cuts are part of a long-term goal of cutting 1,000 jobs in the VOA, almost a third of all staff, by 2021. Click here to view the original article from the Mail on Sunday.

Rob Cohen, partner in our business rates team, commented, “I am disappointed by the government’s decision to announce further cuts at such a critical time for many businesses across the country.

“The VOA are over stretched as it is and have struggled to cope for a number of years in effectively disposing of appeals; there are currently around two hundred thousand appeals outstanding against rating assessments and these job cuts will not help.

“What the VOA really need is more funding and extra resources, not further cuts. It is almost as if they are being set up to fail, lending weight to many sceptics view that the Government will seek to privatise them in due course.”

If you’d like to find out more about business rates and how to appeal your rating bill, please contact Rob Cohen on 0113 221 6120 or email him at rob.cohen@sw.co.uk.

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Rates relief process plagued by delays

The Government has recently intervened in an attempt to speed up business rates relief to thousands of small businesses across the country that have been adversely affected. Despite being promised millions of pounds of support in March’s Budget, many firms who lost small business rates relief as a consequence of the 2017 revaluation are still waiting for their bills to be adjusted and relief to be applied. During the 2017 revaluation the majority of businesses saw little change to their bills but it is estimated that there were nearly 25,000 small companies that lost their entitlement to small business rates relief and faced rates rises of up to 3,000%.

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The Government has recently intervened in an attempt to speed up business rates relief to thousands of small businesses across the country that have been adversely affected.

Despite being promised millions of pounds of support in March’s Budget, many firms who lost small business rates relief as a consequence of the 2017 revaluation are still waiting for their bills to be adjusted and relief to be applied.

During the 2017 revaluation the majority of businesses saw little change to their bills but it is estimated that there were nearly 25,000 small companies that lost their entitlement to small business rates relief and faced rates rises of up to 3,000%.

[fulltext] =>

Following the increase of the threshold for small business rates relief, Chancellor Philip Hammond assured those companies that missed out that their bills wouldn’t go up by more than £50 a month.  These measures have been overcome by delays, with many Local Authorities stating they are unable to amend bills without further guidance being published by the Government.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We've been clear that Local Authorities should take urgent steps to make sure small businesses benefit from the funding that we announced at the Budget in April.”

"There are Councils that have pressed ahead and issued revised bills. Others have chosen to wait for software updates to deliver this particular scheme and we've taken steps to make sure business get this relief as quickly as possible."

Rob Cohen, partner in our rating team in Leeds, commented, “These delays are causing significant confusion for firms across the country and are unfortunately just another sign of a failing system that is serious need of further reform.”

Unsure how the delays might affect you? Speak to Rob on 0113 221 6120 or email him at rob.cohen@sw.co.uk

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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

Read More....

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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. 

 

Contact Us

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Business Rates Budget Highlights 2017

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond gave his first budget to Parliament last week. The Chancellor acknowledged the concerns surrounding business rates but declared that they could not be abolished as he announced changes that will equal a further £435million cut in business rates. Key business rates highlights Business rates will not be abolished but the Chancellor suggested that there would be another consultation on business rates, to find a way of suitably taxing the digital economy. A cap will be put in place for businesses moving from the small business rates relief that will ensure that their monthly business rates bill does not increase by more than £50 per month.

Read More....

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond gave his first budget to Parliament last week. The Chancellor acknowledged the concerns surrounding business rates but declared that they could not be abolished as he announced changes that will equal a further £435million cut in business rates.

Key business rates highlights

  • Business rates will not be abolished but the Chancellor suggested that there would be another consultation on business rates, to find a way of suitably taxing the digital economy.
  • A cap will be put in place for businesses moving from the small business rates relief that will ensure that their monthly business rates bill does not increase by more than £50 per month. [fulltext] =>
  • All pubs with a rateable value less than £100,000 will get a £1,000 discount on their business rates bill.
  • Local authorities will be provided with a £300 million discretionary relief fund to treat business rates issues in their locality.
  • These changes will account for a £435million cut in business rates.

 

Our Opinion

Robert Brown, business rates expert in our rating team commented on the budget, and its impact on business rates across England and Wales:

“Having only just held several consultations on the business rates revaluation process I wonder whether a further consultation is really necessary. While I believe there is an unfair commercial advantage to be gained by digital businesses who may not be as seriously affected by increased business rates bills, there is currently not an easy solution on the table to effectively rate online sales. I have previously suggested that an online tax levied at point of sale similar to a delivery charge might provide a one-off solution.

“The announcement of the discount for pubs is great news with 90% of pubs due to benefit from the discount. Based on the brief statement today in the House of Commons one has to wonder however “when is a pub a pub and when is it a restaurant or a night club?” thus, as always the devil will be in the detail!

There was also welcome news for smaller businesses with a cap put in place to restrict their bills increasing by a disproportionate amount if they move outside the small business relief parameters. I hope this is something that the government commit to in the long term.

“Once the £300million allocated to treating hardship cases is spread between several hundred local authorities it will quickly disappear and it will be interesting in exactly how he plans to spread the money between constituencies.

“The take home message from the Chancellors budget was that these changes would result in a £435 million cut in business rates. It is definitely a step in the right direction but in relation to the £25billion collected by business rates it is merely a drop in the ocean.”

View our guide to reducing your business rates here.

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