Media claims of 25% business rate rebate for offices ‘premature’

19 January 2021
  • Business Rates Cooke & Arkwright

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Cooke & Arkwright’s Business Rates team is urging caution following recent media reports that UK businesses could save a combined £481m in business rates following an interim agreement. The media coverage stated that the interim agreement was for a quarter off the business rate bills for offices.

This followed a huge volume of appeals from businesses whose offices were billed as normal during 2020, despite most offices being unoccupied as employees worked from home. By contrast, a year-long holiday from business rates was granted to the retail, leisure and hospitality sector.

However, Director Jane Shankland of Cooke & Arkwright said, “The claim made of a 25% rebate is premature and I think ratepayers should be cautious. 

“While there have been coordinated discussions ongoing with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to try and agree broad parameters for various classes of properties affected by Covid, it is very much early days and no agreement has yet been reached.

“The negotiations with the VOA have now stalled due to a premature announcement to the press regarding the quantum of any allowances.

“Despite this, some rating advisors are already using the promise of a 25% reduction as a hook to try and secure instructions.

“Hopefully the coordinated discussions will get back on track, but any promise of 25% should be treated with caution for now.

“Our position is that a reasoned, properly prosecuted rating appeal could and should result in reductions to reflect the impact of Covid for some classes of property. We urge businesses to seek specialist professional advice on the matter.”

Cooke & Arkwright has advised Network Rail on a wide variety of development sites in South Wales from Mon Bank in Newport to Radyr Sidings in Cardiff. They bring a high level of commitment, technical expertise and knowledge to the successful disposal of complicated development sites."

Stuart Kirkwood, Development Director, Network Rail