Retailers meet Alun Cairns MP to voice concerns about business rates

Cooke & Arkwright hold presentation to provide advice

16 February 2017

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Worried retailers and small business owners from Cowbridge, Llantwit Major and Barry attended a meeting on the 2017 Business Rate Revaluation at The Bear Hotel in Cowbridge on 13th February. The event was held by the Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP, Secretary of State for Wales to discuss the ongoing issue of changing business rates. Jane Shankland, Associate Director of Rating at Cooke & Arkwright, conducted a presentation to provide advice on how businesses can appeal the new rateable values and keep rates as low as possible. Many businesses across the Vale are bracing themselves to be hit by unanticipated and painful increases in their rate burden, and attendees of the meeting were keen to express their concern.

Alun Cairns said, “The effect of the new rate will be partly mitigated in the short term by a transitional rate relief from the Welsh Government which will stagger the increase over a longer period of time. Although this is better than nothing, it falls far short of what is needed to protect our high streets. As the name implies, it exists to ease the transition to rates that are too high for many of our most valued businesses to survive. What is needed is a permanently enhanced small business rate relief, similar to that which will be used in England by the UK Government from April onwards, whereby rates will be abolished for all businesses with a rateable value below £12,000 and tapered up from there. The qualifying band for full relief in Wales is much lower.”

Jane Shankland commented, “The increases for many small businesses are clearly much larger than expected. Successful challenges will be based on the prosecution of appeals by suitably qualified business rate practitioners. Rental evidence will need to be properly analysed to establish the accuracy of the new assessments in order to conduct meaningful discussions with the Valuation Office Agency. We believe there is a case for businesses to take concerted action, as isolated and sporadic appeal activity will yield the least success.”

She added, “In December the Welsh Government announced an additional £10m to help some high street retailers across Wales who are facing substantial increases in their rates. The scheme is due to be in place by 1st April but details on how it will operate are currently being determined.”

Jane Shankland is very approachable and responsive as well as having sound all round experience of rating law. The Council has benefited greatly from Jane’s support, sound advice and skill and the Council will continue to use her services.

Louise Horner, Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council