The announcement that Valuation Office Agency (VOA), plans to shut down half of its offices due to budget cuts has been described as a “nightmare for businesses wanting to appeal the business rates” by property consultancy business Colliers International.
The VOA confirmed it would close 26 of its 52 offices by 2023, and is also expected to axe 1,000 staff, which is more than 25% of its workforce, by 2021.
The VOA oversees business rates, a tax levied on businesses based on the value of their premises, and the Treasury currently receives an estimated £26bn in revenue from business rates each year.
The VOA re-values the rates on a business premise every five years, however, chancellor Philip Hammond stated during the Budget that revaluations place every three years instead, in an attempt to tackle sudden increases in business rates being paid by companies, which is caused severe hardship to many businesses particularly those in the hospitality industry such as pubs
Property advisor Colliers International described plans to close the offices as a “nightmare” for the 200,000 businesses that are currently appealing revaluations made by the VOA.
“It’s inconceivable that at a time when the VOA has over 200,000 outstanding appeals still in the system it has introduced a new cheque, challenge, appeal (CCA) system which businesses find it impossible to navigate, that the government has decided to reduce rather than boost the number of offices and professionals that can sort out the issues”
He added that many businesses had been “hammered” by recent revaluations, and that the Budget had done “little to ease the pain”.
“Cutting the VOA so dramatically is not only bad news for VOA but also for businesses who more than ever need to be able to appeal their rate bills in a simple, efficient and fair way,” he said.