Further change ahead for ratepayers

15 February 2024
  • cooke and arkwright, business rates, business rates wales

Share this

The Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill is currently making its way through the Senedd. If enacted in its current form, it will set in motion some fundamental changes to rating law and regulations.

The Bill’s provisions include:

  • More frequent revaluations and powers to amend revaluation year.
  • Reliefs – powers to confer, vary and withdraw reliefs and introduce additional eligibility conditions for charitable relief for unoccupied properties.
  • Completion Notices -enabling completion notices to be served in respect of buildings that had been temporarily removed from the rating list due to alterations/refurbishment.
  • Discretionary Relief – enhanced ability for local authorities to award relief.
  • Exemptions – confer regulatory powers on Welsh Government to create, vary or withdraw exemptions from business rates.
  • Rating Multipliers – enable differential multipliers to be prescribed in regulation.
  • Provision of Information – the Bill places a duty on ratepayers to provide certain types of information to the Valuation Office Agency and makes provision for an associated compliance regime.
  • Anti avoidance – the Bill introduces a General Anti-avoidance Rule for Wales

 

Focusing on the aspect of the Bill in relation to the provision of information.  A legal duty will be placed on ratepayers (or the person who would be the ratepayer if the property was included in the rating list) to provide certain types of information to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The information required will include:

Ratepayer name and contact details.

Property details including address.

Lease/licence or other agreement details.

Intended next use of vacant property.

Ratepayers will also need to inform the VOA about physical changes to the property, changes in occupation and other factors deemed material to the rateable value.

Certain ratepayers will need to provide details of their trade, accounts, and costs where material to the rateable value.

 

The Bill confers a requirement to confirm annually that the information held by the VOA is correct, this confirmation will be via an online portal with a strict timescale for compliance.

A further requirement is placed on owners or ratepayers to notify the VOA within 60 days of any change to occupier, physical property, or valuation change. This will include new lettings, sublets, rent reviews, etc. It also includes extensions, refurbishments, and other physical changes.

The duty will apply to all properties in the rating list irrespective of whether rates are paid, including the 700,000 ratepayers in receipt of 100% small business relief.

Jane Shankland, Director, commented “We are concerned that this places a significant additional administrative burden on ratepayers with the prospects of substantial fines for non-compliance or even the threat of imprisonment for the provision of false information.

It is intended that “Duty to Notify” will be phased in before the next revaluation in 2026. Ratepayers will need to be alert to these changes and mindful that it is possible that the changes will exacerbate the activities “cowboy” rating advisors who will use the threat of fines as a hook to engage businesses struggling to navigate the new regime.

I’m also concerned that whilst ratepayers will have a strict timescale for the provision of information there is no duty on the VOA to act on the information provided in a timely manner”.

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

The service provided has been excellent and the one team approach has worked really well. Graham Davies has been exceptional and provided a first class service supported by John Day and Phil Angell. The service we received from the whole team at C&A has been outstanding and I would recommend C&A without reservation.

Nigel Webb, Newport City Homes