Star Acts Early to Ensure Licensees Aren’t Overcharged on Business Rates

With a new business rates rating list coming into effect in April 2023, Star Pubs & Bars is partnering with rating specialist Dunlop Heywood to help ensure that its leased & tenanted pubs are not excessively assessed and overcharged for their business rates.

Star believes a proactive stance is essential and has tailored its new business rates support accordingly. Two services are available to licensees: a challenge to their current rates payable – to prevent any errors continuing onto the 2023 list – and pre-negotiation of their new draft rateable value with the Valuations Office Agency before it becomes effective in April 2023.

In addition, Star will assess all of its pubs’ 2023 ratings valuations as they are received and alert any licensees it believes should seek a review. Draft rating valuations are expected to start arriving at pubs later this year.

Dunlop Heywood was appointed after an extensive tendering process. Star has used its buying power to secure a comprehensive service at highly competitive rates for its licensees and will receive no financial benefit from the partnership. Successful challenges to the current rates payable could see licensees receiving savings backdated to 2017.

Says Chris Moore, Star Pubs & Bars’ property director: “Business rates have a massive impact on a pub’s profitability. Not only are they one of a pub’s highest overheads, but they are often used to determine other costs such as water bills and the late-night levy, too. After the challenges of the last two years, it’s essential that they don’t pay a penny more than they should. With assessments based on turnover, and trade having been inconsistent due to the pandemic, the likelihood of erroneous valuations being set on the new rating list is real. It’s vital licensees act early so that their 2023 rateable value is accurate from the outset, and they don’t have cash unnecessarily tied up with their local council. This approach also gives pubs certainty, enabling them to plan with more confidence and reducing the need for time-consuming appeals.”

“The rating system is now so complex that any kind of appeal needs to be carried out by an expert. Unfortunately, there are some less reputable advisors in the market who charge high upfront fees and fail to deliver results. Our new partnership with Dunlop Heywood gives our pubs the reassurance of being able to access trustworthy advisors should they need them. We are continuing to lobby the Government to reduce the unfair burden of business rates on pubs, and would urge everyone across the trade to support us by getting behind the Long Live the Local campaign.”

Ann Cooper of The Bull Inn, Warlingham, trialled Star’s new appeals service with Dunlop Heywood. It has reduced the pub’s rateable value by more than 25% and given her a rebate of £13,800. She is now signing up with Dunlop Heywood to pre-negotiate the pub’s new 2023 rateable value before it become effective.

Says Ann: “I’m chuffed to bits. I always thought my business rates were too high. Lockdown gave me time to get the figures together and challenge them. The annual savings make the pub more sustainable and offset inflation in other areas, such as energy prices. Having a more accurate rateable value has made me more confident to renew my lease for another five years. The rebate will enable me to invest in a new covered inside/outside area to cater for customers who are still cautious about sitting indoors. Like many pubs, rates are my third biggest overhead, so the savings from a successful challenge are significant. Trying to find those kinds of savings from cutting costs in other places would have been very difficult.”