Shock fall in business rate appeals since launch of new system

Drop in numbers coincides with controversial Check Challenge Appeal system

9 April 2018

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New figures published by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) show a disturbing fall in the number of business rate appeals lodged in England since the 2017 revaluation, compared to previous rating lists.

The drop in numbers coincides with the highly controversial Check Challenge Appeal (CCA) process, which was launched on 1 April 2017 despite universal business objections to many of its features. Now the stats published by the VOA (to 31st December 2017) show that only 12,840 ‘Checks’ had been registered in England since 1st April, compared to 109,290 appeals submitted by the end of September 2010 after the previous revaluation. Even more surprisingly, the stats show that only 1,630 of those checks had progressed to the ‘Challenge’ stage by the end of December.

The 2017 revaluation was the first rating revaluation for seven years after a two-year delay on the traditional five-yearly revaluation was imposed by the government. The eventual revaluation resulted in some significant changes in rateable values reflecting changes in the property market over that period. Many ratepayers have experienced substantial increases in their rates liability.

The CCA system is administered via the Government Gateway portal. It has been subject to widespread and highly publicised condemnation from business leaders and rating professionals, who say that the new system is overly bureaucratic and tortuous to navigate. It is believed that this considerable administrative burden is deterring many people from appealing their rates, however unfair or incorrect they might appear to be. A universal desire for openness and transparency has resulted in unacceptable levels of opaqueness and confusion.

Wales still operates under the existing, user friendly business rate appeal system. However, a consultation on possible changes concluded on 9th January 2018; the responses have been reported to Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government. No announcement on any changes to the existing, simpler appeal system, which works well for all stakeholders, has been made to-date.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

The Welsh Rugby Union Limited, Welsh Rugby Union Group