What the new business rates appeal system could mean to your business

The business rate appeals system in England is to be reformed in an effort to reduce the number of speculative appeals. The new Check, Challenge, Appeal system will require businesses to set out their grounds for challenging with supporting evidence in the hope that genuine appeals are resolved earlier in the process.

From April 2017, businesses wishing to dispute their rates will now be required to go through a 3-stage process:

Check – ensuring facts are up to date and accurate with any agreed errors able to be quickly corrected before proceeding to

Challenge – setting out the grounds for challenging, providing an alternative valuation and putting forward comprehensive supporting evidence. The Valuation Office Agency will only respond if this detailed information is provided, It is intended that the majority of cases will be resolved at this point.

Appeal – appeal to the independent Valuation Tribunal is likely to be a last resort. The scope to introduce new evidence will be constrained and the Tribunal will only be permitted to change the rateable value only if they consider that the valuation is outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement. There will be a cost of £300 (£150 for small businesses) to proceed to the Appeal stage with discounts for cases determined without a hearing. These will be refundable if the appeal is successful.

The crucial part of this revised system is the Challenge stage, which requires the appellant to provide well-researched evidence to support any claim.  This may be rental details, valuations of similar properties and photographs that will provide information to help the Valuation Office Agency to reach a view.

This Challenge stage will require changes in working practise from all parties and will increase the need for professional advice from qualified rating experts. The Valuation Office Agency is providing an online service for customers to provide information about their property and to track progress of their Check or Challenge.

The VOA is also working to introduce a pre-Challenge clearance process that will allow groups of ratepayers in the same location to provide evidence outside the formal process. This means that shops on a high street or businesses on an industrial estate or business park can work together to provide joint evidence.

The revised business rates appeals process applies to the April 2017 Revaluation. Although the appeals process can’t start until then this is of immediate concern to business occupiers with the draft rating list being published on 30thSeptember 2016.

If you think that the new rate appeals system might affect your business, contact Robert Seares of RDS Commercial for further advice on 01993 705594 or email robert@rdscommercial.com