Welsh Government follows England in ruling out Covid-related business rate appeals

8 July 2021

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The Welsh Government has announced that it will take an identical approach to England in its measures to rule out business rate appeals based on material change in circumstances (MCC) due to the adverse valuation impact of the pandemic.

Rebecca Evans MS, Minister for Finance and Local Government, said the intention is to legislate to include provisions for Wales in the UK Government’s ‘Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill (the UK Bill)’ which will operate to disregard Covid-19 appeals on the basis of MCC.

She said that such appeals would otherwise lead to significant amounts of taxpayer support going to businesses which would have been able to operate normally throughout the pandemic and to businesses which have already benefitted from the rates relief provided during the pandemic.

Andrew West, Business Rates Director at Cooke & Arkwright said, “This follows the UK Government’s announcement in March. The Rating Surveyors Association (RSA) estimated at that time that £5 billion was at stake with a record number of appeals lodged from businesses not covered by the existing Covid related business rate relief.

“The UK Government announced £1.5 billion funding to be distributed to sectors which have suffered the most economically. This fell far short of the true economic impact on businesses. The devolved administrations were to receive additional funding, with £90 million allocated to Wales.

“There have been at least 16,000 MCC appeals lodged in Wales which will now be void, and we have yet to hear how the Welsh Government will distribute this funding. This is a disappointing delay as businesses continue to suffer the adverse economic consequences of the pandemic.”

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.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group