Business Rate Policy – What’s Happening in Wales?

12 June 2018

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Cooke & Arkwright’s Rating Director, Andrew West, delivered a speech on Business Rate Policy in Wales on Thursday 7th June at the 18th National Rating Day Congress at the Congress Centre in London. The event was attended by over 300 senior business rate professionals, government officials and ratepayers. The Welsh Business Rates system, Andrew told the audience, has much to commend it.

He explained that the system in England is under pressure from the recently introduced and much criticised Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) process. Appeals in England fell from 222,960 in the first 12 months of the 2010 list, to just 23,770 Checks in the first 12 months of the 2017 list. Of these, only 2,620 have progressed to the Challenge stage. While Wales has also seen a fall in the number of appeals thus far, it is much less pronounced – from 11,270 to 4,860. The appeal system in Wales is simpler, with fewer barriers to constructive dialogue. There have been regular calls for evidence over the past five years and a number of formal consultations conducted, including Task and Finish Groups, which have had some impact. A number of targeted reliefs have been implemented, including a new permanent Small Business Rate Relief Scheme effective from 1st April 2018.

Andrew explained that the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government had accepted that there were problems with the CCA process in England, and to-date the Welsh Government has made no announcement on changes to the system in Wales. Andrew predicted that it was now unlikely that any changes would be implemented until the next revaluation, which might be brought forward a year, as in England, to 2021.

It is hoped this will be followed by a move to more regular, three yearly revaluations as has been announced in England, rather than the current five-yearly cycle. This would seem to be likely, given that the Valuation Office Agency probably doesn’t have the resources to prepare a rating list in Wales working on a different cycle to England

The ‘Authority to Act’ declaration in Wales has addressed many of the perceived problems in the current system without resorting to the complexities introduced by the CCA registration in England. Lessons have been learned from the deficiencies of CCA and the Welsh Government will probably find a middle ground, albeit with a more formal process of written exchange.

Click here to see Andrew's presentation.

Andrew is a spokesperson for the RICS Wales on property taxation, and has given evidence to the National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee and the Welsh Government’s Business Rates Task and Finish Group. He is a member of the Welsh Ratepayer’s Forum and RICS National Rating and Local Taxation Policy Panel advising the Westminster Government.

Mansford has expanded its investment portfolio over the last few years. Over this time Andrew West has provided us with a full rating valuation service which has involved giving a view on liabilities prior to acquisitions, as well as conducting negotiations with Valuation Officers on our UK estate. The portfolio includes a wide range of properties from shops, offices and pubs to major leisure schemes. He has been particularly successful in mitigating our liabilities to empty property rate, which has been an issue on acquisition prior to implementing our development and letting strategy. I have no hesitation in recommending Andrew's expertise in rating valuation for all property types. The profile of property within his portfolio and the successes achieved are testament to his position as an extremely accomplished rating practitioner.

Leopold Hall, Partner, Mansford LLP