Last week, the Queen’s speech announced that the Government is to push ahead with the reforms as part of a new Enterprise Bill. The planned reforms will allow the Valuation Office Agency to share more information with local government on how it reaches its ratings decisions.
The reform, which was the subject of government consultation last year, aims to slash the mountain of appeals decisions faced by councils.
Nigel Fletcher, of Harris Lamb’s Rating department, said: “The VOA is currently limited in what it can disclose under the Commissioners of Revenue & Customs Act 2005, so a great deal of time and energy is spent during the appeals process in extracting information that shows how rating decisions have been made.
“Access to increased information will hopefully lead to a reduction in the number of appeals, thereby enabling local authorities to provide more accurate predictions of what business rates they are likely to receive.”
“Ultimately, this isn’t a shakeup of the Business Rates system itself, just the Appeals process, or so it seems. However, the fact that commercial rates reform and changes make mention in the Queens speech for this Parliament is good news, as it starts a process of consultation –  to some degree the ‘lid is being lifted’,” he said.
“The tax generated from commercial business rates is enormous so we can’t expect too much to change but there is an overwhelming need now for the re-valuation in 2017.”