Evidence to National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee on Business Rates

18 November 2016

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Andrew West, Director of Business Rates at Cooke & Arkwright, was recently asked to present expert evidence before the National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee on the subject of business rates.

The resulting report was produced earlier today, the key aspects of which are summarised below.

Aims

1. Obtain more detail and provide clarity on the Cabinet Secretary’s priorities for business rates in Wales

2. Understand witnesses’ experience of the upcoming 2017 business rates revaluation

3. Scrutinise how the Welsh Government intends to implement the Welsh Labour manifesto commitment to give a business rates tax cut to small businesses

4. Find out more on the Cabinet Secretary’s plans to consider replacing business rates with a land value tax in the longer term

 

Recommendations

1. Commit to improving the transparency and consistency of business rates

Andrew’s views on increasing transparency within the business rates system was quoted verbatim as the first recommendation.

“One of the issues that constantly come across in my discussions with businesses and ratepayers is not understanding the system and the basis of the tax, which is the rateable value: ‘What does a rateable value mean... I think it’s incumbent upon Welsh Government or the Valuation Office Agency, which sets the new assessments, to explain how that assessment is arrived at.”

- Andrew West from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Wales (RICS Wales)

2. Provide clarity on future direction

3. Fill the data gap around businesses benefitting from the major reliefs funded by the Welsh Government by collecting this information centrally and publishing headline data

4. Reform the appeals process in Wales so that it is faster and fairer

5. Move revaluations to a three year cycle

 

Conclusion

Business Rates are a perennial issue among small business owners. Even those  that currently pay nothing are concerned that should their business grow they would cross the threshold and start to pay

The Cabinet Secretary has taken an open-minded approach at the start of his term of office and look forward to hearing his approach to further reforming the system of appeals

The Cabinet Secretary was urged to look again at the various reviews and task and finish groups conducted in the last Assembly to give a clear indication to business in Wales that taxes will be transparent & consistent

 

This important document has also featured today in both BBC Wales and Wales Online