Business rates appeals system report sparks fresh criticism

Secondary revenue

The appeals system for business rates has come under fresh scrutiny following the release of government data reporting a drop in the number of property owners challenging the tax.

Figures published by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) this week revealed that since the new “check, challenge and appeal” system was launched in April, an average of 940 appeals a month were made.

This compares to 17,500 appeals per month in 2010.

The dramatic decline in rates appeals has sparked criticism from many, suggesting the decline points to the system being too complex to navigate.

Crossbench peer John Lytton condemned the new system in the House of Commons earlier this year, stating that the “torturous” registration system had been designed to prevent businesses appealing.

Colliers International head of business ratings John Webber said: “It beggars belief that businesses are so happy with their rate bills in 2017 that hardly any one is contesting.

“We would argue the figures for 2017 are so low purely because ratepayers can’t navigate through the new system”.

Altus Group’s president of UK business rates Alex Probyn added: “The new regulations are here to stay and need more time to be made to work.

“While there remain genuine concerns in the ratings community, we believe the new regulations can be made to work through co-operation and anticipate the numbers rising dramatically in the new year as advisers assemble the evidence required.”

According to Altus Group, only 400 of the 5650 appeals have progressed to the second stage in the six months since the new systems introduction. 2260 of these remain unresolved.

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