Business rates appeal process continues to fall short of expectations

Published on: 5th June 2018

In the 12 months since last year’s business rates revaluation the number of business that have appealed their business rates assessments has fallen by a massive 89%.

Figures released last week showed that only 23,770 businesses had served Checks on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in the period April 2017 to March 2018, contrasting with 222,000 appeals served in the year following the 2010 revaluation.

Owing to a seven-year Rating List, implemented by the coalition government of 2013, the 2017 business rates revaluation led to thousands of businesses receiving increased rating assessments of greater than 50% and a package of relief that was inadequate and unfair for many. Despite this and the fact excessive business rates are regularly cited as being a major contributing factor to failing high streets and difficulties in the leisure sector, it is staggering that only 1.3% of rateable values (RVs) have been challenged.

Rob Cohen, Partner in our Rating team commented, “The drop in the number of businesses contesting their rateable value cannot be attributed to businesses accepting their bills as some in Government may contend but is down to the overly complex Check Challenge Appeal process (CCA) that was introduced alongside the 2017 Revaluation.

“It was not long ago that the government released figures showing that 90% of users are currently dissatisfied with the new CCA process and these figures coupled with the huge decline in businesses contesting their RVs are difficult to ignore. They point to a system that has failed to deliver what it set out to and the system that should be delivered as part of a fair and transparent taxation system in a developed country. The reforms made by the Government to the appeal system last year were poorly construed and poorly implemented and, if they are to avoid continued criticism and potentially judicial reviews on matters, HMRC needs to make significant changes to make the system more user friendly, remove red tape and release their staff of bureaucracy and targets that make it difficult for them to perform their duties.”

Graham Isle, Partner, also commented, “The extra burdens placed on ratepayers in challenging their rate assessments has resulted in a significant delay in the majority of ratepayers commencing the process, and even when the process has commenced, it could in some circumstances take up to 30 months before an appeal to an independent tribunal can be made. The whole process has led to further financial pressures for companies, especially in the retail and service sector. This can be evidenced by the number of recently approved compulsory voluntary arrangements entered into and store closures which ultimately lead to job losses.”

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Government announces that plant nurseries will benefit from business rates exemption

A new bill was introduced into parliament today (Wednesday 23rd May) that will ensure that owners of plant nurseries will continue to benefit from a business rates exemption. A plant nursery is defined as an establishment where plants or trees are gown in the early stages of their lives and not to be confused with garden centres where plants are displayed and then sold to the public, garden centres will continue to pay business rates following the bill.

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A new bill was introduced into parliament today (Wednesday 23rd May) that will ensure that owners of plant nurseries will continue to benefit from a business rates exemption.

A plant nursery is defined as an establishment where plants or trees are gown in the early stages of their lives and not to be confused with garden centres where plants are displayed and then sold to the public, garden centres will continue to pay business rates following the bill.

[fulltext] =>

For almost 100 years both land and property at plant nursery grounds have avoided paying business rates bills via an agricultural exemption to help support the rural economy.

Since March this year however, following a Court of Appeal decision, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) begun charging business rates on all properties located at plant nurseries.

In an announcement today, Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak, said “Plant nurseries are an essential part of the rural economy and it is vital they are protected. This legislation will put a stop to this unreasonable burden on businesses and will help maintain a productive, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector.”

You can read the Non-Domestic (Nursery Grounds) Bill that was published today by clicking here. 

For further information please contact Graham Isle, partner in our business rates team, on 0113 221 6119 or at graham.isle@sw.co.uk.

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Business rates appeals process continues to cause businesses issues

Recent research carried out by the Government has revealed that almost 90 per cent of users are dissatisfied with the new business rates appeals process. Research carried out since the revamped system was introduced, in April 2017, has shown that 88% of the 2,085 respondents described themselves as ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the changes. Comments from our clients generally revolve around criticism of the complex logon and registration process and a typical comment is “We understand the need for security and the registration process, but the manner that the VOA’s online service has been constructed makes it extremely difficult and we are struggling to even registered on the new system.”

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Recent research carried out by the Government has revealed that almost 90 per cent of users are dissatisfied with the new business rates appeals process. Research carried out since the revamped system was introduced, in April 2017, has shown that 88% of the 2,085 respondents described themselves as ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the changes.

Comments from our clients generally revolve around criticism of the complex logon and registration process and a typical comment is “We understand the need for security and the registration process, but the manner that the VOA’s online service has been constructed makes it extremely difficult and we are struggling to even registered on the new system.”

[fulltext] =>

Since the introduction of the new system there has been a huge decrease in the number of businesses contesting their rateable value, with a drop of approximately 97% compared to the previous system. The government are attributing this to businesses being happy with their rateable values but in truth we put this down to the fact that it has become overly complex to lodge an appeal or register an agent acting on a ratepayer's behalf.

Moving forward we accept that the check challenge and appeal system is here to stay, however, the Valuation Office Agency need to make urgent and significant changes to the system to make it more user-friendly and reduce the amount of red tape.

The changes are not all bad, as the transparency of the valuations has been improved and there appears to be an opportunity for simple factual alterations to the valuation list to be corrected quicker at the check stage.

To contact one of our business rates experts please use the contact form below.

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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. 

 

Contact Us

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