The Government’s new business rates appeals system is effectively deterring business owners from challenging how much they pay, according to leading business rates expert, KWB’s Martin Cook.
Martin, Head of Rates and Lease Advisory at KWB Birmingham commercial property agents, says that the latest figures published by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) show that more than 90% of commercial property owners or occupiers have done nothing to check their rating assessments.
Martin Cook says: “Fewer than 9% of UK commercial properties have been claimed by occupiers on the new VOA system and we are already 18 months into the new rating list, with only two and a half years until the next revaluation. This is an astonishingly low figure, as you cannot submit a check or challenge on your rateable value until you claim your property.”
Introduced in April 2017, the VOA’s ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ system requires ratepayers to check the information held on the property by the VOA as the first step in the process of challenging an assessment. Multiple properties held in a portfolio must each be claimed separately and the identity of the ratepayer must be proven with supporting documentation, making the process cumbersome. Only then can occupiers appoint a ratings specialist to act on their behalf with the VOA.
Martin continued: “If you consider that fewer than 0.25% (4,460) of all UK 2017 ratings assessments (approx. 1.8 million) have been challenged, with less than one in four of these so far resolved by the VOA, it’s clear that the system is not working for occupiers.
“However there are substantial sums of money to be saved here, and if you suspect that your rates bill is too high, you should pursue it. The first step is to speak to a professional advisor who can guide you through the new system.”