Business rate turmoil in England

In Wales, the system has much to commend it

23 February 2017
  • Andrew West Director of Business Rates Cooke & Arkwright
  • Chester

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Business rates have again made constant headline news in England over the past week. Not a day goes by without this topic appearing on the front page. The adverse impact of the 2017 business rate revaluation on high street retailers in particular is a cause of some concern, with some very successful lobbying leading to the Westminster Government having to reconsider its position on those properties suffering substantial increases as a result of the revaluation.

The impact of increases in England should be tempered by having these liabilities phased in. However, the broad limits will still result in substantial increases from 1st April 2017.

To add to the discontent, England will suffer under the new bureaucratic Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) system; two multipliers with big business subsidising small business; the least generous transitional scheme since the commencement of five yearly revaluations in 1990; and the ongoing requirements to submit statements of case in a strict timetable to the Valuation Tribunal. All of this impedes constructive discussion which is essential for ratepayers to understand the reasoning behind their assessment to establish whether it is excessive or not.

In Wales the system has much to commend it. There are no transitional adjustments (reliefs or penalties) apart from the new transitional scheme for those properties losing some or all of their small business rate relief as a result of the revaluation, and just one multiplier, expressed in a rate bill which is easy to understand.

Mark Drakeford, the Minister for Finance and Local Government, is to be commended in addressing some of the strain caused by the impact of the 2017 revaluation to the beleaguered high street by announcing the introduction of a £10 million scheme targeted at high street retail properties which will reduce individual rate bills by up to £1,500 from 2017/18.

The system in Wales is viewed with envy in England and the Chancellor would be well advised to replicate the features of the Welsh system of business rates in his forthcoming budget. 

Click here to read more about the £10m relief scheme in Wales.