Business rates plans will make appeals more onerous and expensive, advisers warn

The Government’s latest proposals for business rates reform will create more difficulties for businesses launching appeals than benefits, property consultants have warned.

Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 8:06 am
John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said this will result in a “much more onerous and expensive way” for businesses to appeal over their rates.

Experts at real estate advisory firm Colliers have called for ratepayers to push back against the plans during a consultation process which ends next week.

In June, the Government launched a consultation paper which proposed that business rates – the property tax facing UK companies – will undergo a revaluation every three years.

The latest review was due to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic and subsequently postponed until 2023.

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Retail and hospitality leaders, including Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, have heavily criticised the fact that rates are still valued at 2015 levels despite a significant decline in retail property values.

Nevertheless, real estate experts have said the new proposals will result in difficulties for companies as they will toughen up the current appeals policy.

John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said this will result in a “much more onerous and expensive way” for businesses to appeal over their rates.

“This new system would increase the bar to appeal against unfair rating assessments and thus reduce the number of appeals,” he added.

“The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will have no need to inspect properties or maintain the list – that responsibility seems to have passed to every ratepayer in the country.

“If the proposals go ahead as in current form, the VOA will think it is Christmas.”

Colliers has said the Government should also provide the VOA with more resources to help it cope with more regular revaluations and prevent an increased burden on businesses.

Mr Webber added that the advisory firm would prefer annual revaluations to ensure more accurate rates figures.

Firms have until August 24 to make their representations as part of the current business rates consultation process.