The number of businesses appealing against their rating valuations has dropped by 80% since the government introduced its “check and challenge” ratings appeal system.
The VOA sets the rateable value for non-domestic property (any property or land which isn’t solely used residentially). A property may contain a number of non-domestic owners and occupiers, so rateable values are given to each separately-occupied unit of property. A list of rateable values is provided to local councils, which they use to calculate non-domestic rates (also known as business rates).
Non-domestic properties that also have a domestic part (such as a shop with the shop owner’s flat above it) are often referred to as composite properties. Composite properties are valued for both business rates and Council Tax.
Government figures reveal that 65,380 appeals have been launched against 2017 valuations under the new system, whereas the same period following the 2010 valuations saw 333,000 appeals lodged.
The launch of ‘check, challenge, appeal’ coincided with a significant rate increase for London and the south east, and was described by John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers International, as a “bitter pill”.
He said: “Over complicated procedures, lack of guidance and a largely un-navigable new online portal are still discouraging those with good cases from challenging their bills.
“At the very least businesses now need to employ agents to help them get through the system, whereas before many could appeal directly themselves.”
The Valuations Office Agency is understood to be turning its attention to the 2021 revaluation triggering concerns that case workers will be reassigned, and the backlog left to build up.
Webber added: “The lack of planning, insignificant time to trial the system before it went live and apparent lack of desire by the government to engage with agents and their software providers has resulted in an appeal system unfit for purpose, however the Valuation Office Agency tries to dress up the figures.
“With the 2017 rating revaluation producing some of the largest increases in liability in a generation, and 2018/9 and 2019/20 building up further rises, it appears this government has proved again that it neither understands the pressures facing businesses or has a willingness to act on calls to change.”