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The government has proposed that the VTE would only be capable to order a vary to the rateable worth of a property if the existing valuation was “outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement”, for valuations that grab place subsequent April 2017. Although a consultation on the proposals does not define this term, Colliers has claimed that this would prevent the VTE from revisiting rateable values that were out by as much as 20%.

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, said that the proposals would “pile tens of millions of pounds” onto the business rates bills of those with enormous commercial property portfolios in particular.

“At a season when multitudinous firms, particularly in London and the South East, can expect their bills to skyrocket, this adds insult to injury,” he said.

“This clear infringement of a rate payer’s proper to appeal their rateable worth must not be allowed to makeup portion of the government’s business rates appeals whitewash. And with only weeks to goaway until the VOA [Valuation Office Agency] publishes recent rateable values for every non-domestic property in the nation, 300,000 businesses are silent awaiting decisions about appeals lodged up to seven years ago. These proposed regulations are very draconian,” he said.

The government intends to introduce a recent three-stage ‘check, challenge, appeal’ approach to business rates appeals from 1 April 2017, the date on which a recent national revaluation of rateable values will grab effect. Business rates are paid by occupiers of non-domestic properties such as shops, offices, warehouses and factories; and are based on rateable values set by the VOA. Revaluations usually grab place every five years, although the most recent revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2010 based on rateable values from 1 April 2008.

According to the consultation, the current business rates appeals system is “broken and in require of reform”. The VOA had managed to clear the nearly 666,000 appeals on the 2010 rating list as of March of this year, but “too multitudinous appeals remain held up for too drawnout, creating costs and uncertainty for businesses and for local authorities”, the government said.

The recent system has been designed to “manage the flow of cases through the system in a structured and transparent way”, according to the consultation. It would commence with a ‘check’ stage, at which “facts concerning the property are agreed between the VOA and the ratepayer”; proceeding to a ‘challenge’ stage, at which the government anticipates that the “enormous majority” of cases on which agreement could not be reached would be resolved.

beneath the recent system, appeals would be reserved for “issues which remain outstanding and which are material, on the basis of arguments and evidence which own already been established”. The recent test, beneath which the VTE should only order a vary in rateable worth “where their view is that the valuation is outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement”, is intended to recognise the expertise of the VOA and ensure that the tribunal’s resources are “focused on cases where there is a real issue at stake”, according to the consultation.

John Webber of Colliers said that this recent test would be particularly unfair for businesses needing to appeal the rateable values of their properties as a result of ‘material changes in circumstances’. These are cases which are brought when there are physical changes to the property, the area or the way in which the property is used while the rating period, which may or may not be temporary; and which are usually for rates reductions of less than 10%. An example could be where the road outside a shop is being dug up, or where a similar business opens next to the business making the appeal, according to Colliers.

The government’s consultation, which also includes draft regulations, closes on 11 October 2016.

Earlier this week, a recent report (35-leaf / 1MB PDF) commissioned by the County Councils Network (CCN) showed a “wide variation” in the business rates collected between urban and rural areas, and between individual districts in local authority areas. Rateable values per head in London now average £3,700 compared to £851 in county areas, which the report found was due not only to the varied property values but also to the larger numbers of rate payers claiming reliefs in rural areas.

The CCN, which is a network of 37 county councils and unitary authorities outside of England’s enormous urban areas, said that the figures showed that “well-intentioned” plans to fully devolve business rates to local areas by 2020 could finish up being unfair.

“We welcome the transport towards financial self-sufficiency, but we exhort Whitehall to labor with county and district authorities to ensure that growth is not concentrated in small pockets of the nation,” said CCN vice chairman David Borrow.