Business Rates – 12 months on are the changes too complicated? Update on Check, Challenge, Appeal in Wales 12 months into the new system

2 May 2024
  • business rates, business rates in wales, chartered surveyors

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From 1st April 2023 a new rating appeal system was adopted in Wales, which broadly replicates the Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) system introduced in England in 2017.

The introduction has reduced the number of appeals received in the first 9 months of the list to just one third.  There were 1,130 checks submitted in Wales compared to 3,070 appeals submitted during the same period April 2017 to December 2017.

Huw Jones, Associate Director of Business Rates at Cooke & Arkwright, who represents numerous clients in Wales and England says “this is a worrying statistic. The number of appeals are falling when business rates are one of the main outgoings for a business. You may say that the reduced number of appeals is a sign more regular revaluations are working, and rateable values better represent market rents.    I disagree, the reduction in the number of checks being submitted is down to other factors, particularly the increased administrative burden of ratepayers having to register their interest on the VOA portal”.

The new appeal system replaces the previous more user-friendly system where a ratepayer or their agent could make a proposal to alter the valuation of their non-domestic property in a simple format.  

Ratepayers in Wales are now required to follow the CCA process using the Valuation Office Agency’s Check and Challenge digital service.

The Valuation Office Agency’s digital service enables the ratepayer to: 

  • Check the rateable value (RV) of their property;
  • Tell the VOA if their property details need changing;
  • Tell the VOA if they think their rateable value is too high;
  • Appoint an agent to deal with their business rates on their behalf.

The initial registration on the Valuation Office Agency Check and Challenge digital service must be undertaken by the ratepayer. To register the ratepayer must have a Government Gateway account.

Whilst Cooke & Arkwright are not able to register the ratepayer, we are able to aid in the registration process. Once registered, the ratepayer will be able to appoint Cooke & Arkwright as their agent enabling us to deal with their business rates on the portal. 

Since the introduction of CCA ratepayers have encountered problems in the initial registration process. The portal requires confirmation of identity, if an employee is completing the registration on behalf of the employer business, the employee must confirm their identity providing their personal credentials. Understandably, there is a reluctance to do this.

Huw says “we have received many enquiries asking if this step is necessary. Confirmation of identity and of authority from the employer to register the business on the portal are fundamental steps. I can understand the hesitation, it’s frustrating for ratepayers that they must go through this registration process for a property where they pay rent and rates, and they only want to understand their tax burden and see if it can be reduced”.

The new system was designed to eliminate speculative appeals, the ratepayer or their agent is required at Challenge stage to provide a written document detailing a reasoned valuation and evidence.  This document must be compelling and complete as there is very little opportunity to add evidence after this stage.

Now, more than ever it is important to obtain professional advice in negotiating CCA. Cooke & Arkwright offers a specialist, market-leading business rates advisory service to help owners and occupiers throughout the UK minimise their business rates liability.

For advice on any aspect of business rates please contact Huw Jones, Andrew West or Jane Shankland of our rating team on rating@coark.com.

The Leekes Retail and Leisure Group have substantial property assets within the group and have engaged Andrew West to appeal against rating assessments on these properties since 2010. We have consistently been impressed by Andrew's knowledge of the property market and his negotiating skills have been exceptional. Given Andrew's outstanding performance, we would not hesitate to recommend Andrew to any business large or small seeking to appeal their rates liabilities.

Mike Fowler, Group Finance Director, Leekes Group