Businesses are also struggling to deal with increases in rates as a result of the revaluation of commercial properties earlier this year and have to navigate the Valuation Office’s online service which is not fit for purpose. In another blow this week (10 August) it was reported that only around £197k of the government’s £300million business rates relief fund has been allocated.
Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said:
“The findings from our Freedom of Information request paints a chaotic picture. We now know the full extent of the crisis facing the hospitality industry with 20,490 hospitality business waiting on appeals from complaints they lodged in 2010. This is further compounded by the lack of clarity concerning the new appeals process. It is increasingly clear that through no fault of its own the Valuation Office is underfunded and thus over run. The government needs to act now before it is too late.”
Business rate expert David Shuttleworth, vice-president of specialist surveyors Altus UK said:
“We are acutely aware that this is a particularly challenging climate for many operators to stay profitable, and we have sympathy with the frustrations that many businesses in the hospitality sector face when addressing their rates rises.
“The recently published Valuation Office Business Plan commits the agency to settling all 2010 Rating List appeals by 31st March 2019 so businesses may have nearly 2 more years for their retrospective appeals to be concluded. This at the same time that increases in rates as a consequence of the 2017 Rating Revaluation are impacting on SMEs in particular.”
The average increase in Rateable Values on hotels for the 2017 revaluation is around 23 per cent businesses facing rises a lot higher. Westminster, central London, has seen average rises of 39 per cent and in Eastbourne, on the south coast, the figure is 45 per cent. Restaurants and pubs face massive increases too, notwithstanding the £1,000 a year rebate given to the pubs which works out at just £20 a week.
Business rates will be a key issue at the BHA’s annual Lobby Day in parliament on the 10 October 2017. Last year’s event was attended by over 150 business owners and 65 MPs.