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The South West Specialists

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Rating update May 2014

March, April and May are always a busy time of year for Rating professionals and 2014 is no exception, as proposals are afoot for changes to the business rates system. 

In the Chancellor’s December Autumn Statement, he announced proposals to make the rating system more transparent, understandable and efficient by October this year.  A three month consultation period ended on the 3rd March.  As part of this consultation there are three main proposals being considered which look to improve the transparency of the appeals process to increase public confidence in the whole system.  At present rate payers and rating professionals cannot clearly see the rental evidence upon which their R.V. is based, until they have appealed and are in discussions with the Valuation Office Agency (for those properties that are assessed by reference to rents i.e. shops, offices and industrial premises).  They are also proposing greater detail in any appeal submitted, encouraging more carefully considered and thought out appeals with a view to genuinely excessive appeals being considered more promptly, speeding up the settlement time and consequently any subsequent refunds/rebates.  They are also looking to more clearly define the separation between the Valuation Office Agency and Valuation Tribunal for England.

At the same time as the DCLG consultation ended The Retail Inquiry (undertaken by the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee) published its results concluding that the current business rates regime is not fit for purpose.  MPs are seeking a complete overhaul of the business rates system, with business rates quoted as being the single biggest threat to retailers. 

Nicola Murrish, Associate at Vickery Holman, comments that “the government needs to act swiftly if their proposed changes to the current system are to be implemented by October this year.  Greater transparency from the VOA will be welcomed and disclosure of their supporting evidence at an earlier stage will provide for more productive appeal discussions from the outset.  Similarly more detailed reasons for appealing from the outset, will hopefully reduce the number of ill thought out appeals which clog up the system.  Any substantial overhaul of the current system, will not however be quick enough for already struggling retailers.  In the meantime ratepayers will have to rely on reliefs and the 2% cap on increases.”

For more informatin contact our rating team, Nicola Murrish, Sam Payne and Nick Holman.