New business rates legislation proposed by the Government will increase the administrative burden on small firms; these proposals contain three new measures which have been heavily criticised simply put it would appear the Government are seeking to discourage businesses from appealing their rating assessments.
The proposals allow for significant changes to the appeals system and the powers of the valuation office to share information with Local Authorities.
The three stage amendments are:
Check – This will require us to carefully verify all factual information pertaining to the property prior to any challenge against the assessment. Once we have submitted a “check” the Valuation Office (VO) have up to twelve months to consider it and respond.
Challenge – Once the facts have been verified a detailed assessment, valuation, and ‘Statement of Case’ will have to be provided to the VO in order to challenge the Rateable Value. The VO will then issue a decision notice based on this. At this stage the decision notice may agree with the proposed valuation and reduce the assessment accordingly. The matter will then be finalised. However should the VO not agree there is the right to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal (VT)
Appeal – An appeal to the Valuation Tribunal can only be lodged after a decision notice has been issued by the VO. If the case proceeds to appeal, the appellants will have the opportunity to present their case to an independent panel and cross examine the VO case. A decision is then issued by the VT 28 days after proceedings.
All of this could catch out the innocent business owner, and with the further proposal to introduce financial penalties (up to £500) for providing false information it seems these changes are designed to raise the bar for anyone considering appealing against their rates assessment.
Far from creating something simpler it would appear what the Government has proposed will create a system with more work, adding additional up front cost and penalties in a system heavily weighted against the ratepayer.
To understand how we can asist you through this process please contact the team direct.