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.”

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