Latest business rates appeal figures announced today reveal that the business rates system and in particular, CCA, the “new” Check Challenge Appeal Business Rates Appeals System, clearly isn’t working, according to rating experts at Colliers- as businesses rushed to register their appeals as the 2017 Rating list came to an end. Many of those appealing were in the retail and hospitality sectors.
According to government statistics 845,670 Checks (the first part of the appeal process) were registered over the six years of the 2017 list (1st April 2017 to 31st March 2023) with 132,690 or 16% of these registered in the last quarter (Jan 1st to March 31st 2023) of the list alone- as businesses rushed to beat the deadline. This was nearly seven times as many checks registered in the previous quarter, when 19,660 were registered.
As a result, 97,610 Checks were outstanding by 31st March 2023, up from 10,610 the previous quarter.
According to John Webber Head of Business Rates at Colliers these high figures illustrate the extent to which businesses are unhappy with their business rates bills and are prepared to negotiate the complex CCA (Check Challenge Appeal) system to challenge them. Webber points out that resolving these appeals will need a deluge of time and resource spent by the VOA.
“ Such high numbers show that the system isn’t working and that CCA has not been the answer the VOA claimed it would be. “says Webber. “CCA was brought in to stem the number of appeals made and to process them quickly. Yet appeal figures are now averaging over 140,000 a year and are as high as ever. Businesses still remain bogged down trying to get them resolved.
According to government figures there were 1.085 million appeals registered in the seven years of the 2010 list. CCA was brought in in April 2017 to stem the demand and make appeals easier, but the system was so cumbersome and complex that many businesses got frustrated and bogged down that they gave up going through the new appeal system.
“Appeal figures fell in the early days not because CCA was working, as the VOA claimed, “says Webber, “but because many businesses could not face the trauma of trying to negotiate the system and appeal their business rates. As the latest figures show, with similar numbers of appeals against the 2017 list as that of 2010, the discontent with business rates bills has not gone away.”
Webber points out the current 2017 figures would be even worse if many businesses had not been given the two-year business rates holidays they received during the Covid period and the government had not “outlawed” the millions of appeals registered as an MCC (material change of circumstance) due to the pandemic’s impact on business.
He concludes, “The VOA keeps trying to frustrate ratepayers in appealing their rating assessments, but even with the hurdles in place businesses are continuing to challenge their assessments in vast numbers. The suggestion that CCA is working has been blown out of the water with these statistics! The burden of business rates is too high and the lack of transparency about how their bills are arrived at is the root cause of this shocking number of people appealing their assessments.”