Business Rates specialists at Harris Lamb have raised concerns about the pressure ratepayers are set to be subjected to further to a fundamental review of the system by the Government.

Whilst the team welcomes plans for a three-year revaluation cycle from April 2023, it fears that potential appeals will fall by the wayside, and that the additional administration the move will require will prove too arduous for businesses, resulting in financial penalties being issued.

Andrew Hulbert, Director
Andrew Hulbert

Andrew Hulbert, Director, said: “The Government is committed to more frequent revaluations from next year, but we are concerned that the onus is set to fall on the ratepayer as opposed to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

“Effectively, the plan is to move to a ‘self assessment’ model, which will see businesses submit annual statements for every property they use, providing information on size, rents, leases, landlord arrangements and trading details, regardless of whether such details have changed since the previous update. Those businesses with multiple properties will have to break down this information for every building; a time-consuming undertaking that is going to create a huge amount of red tape and stress for those tasked with overseeing the collation of information.

“A key point of concern for us is that businesses who currently do not pay business rates will also be obligated to submit this information – something which they may not realise they’re required to do, and which will almost certainly prove a pointless exercise with their circumstances remaining unchanged,” he said.

Andrew said that the new model could have a detrimental impact on ratepayers, both in terms of appeals failing to be processed due to the tighter timescales between revaluations, and financial penalties being imposed for incomplete or incorrect information being returned within the specified deadlines.

“As it stands, April 2023 will see the new model implemented on a ‘soft launch’ basis, meaning that businesses have three years to find their feet in complying with the new requirements without fearing fines and penalties before the 2026 Rating List begins. But with many businesses focused on day-to-day operations and so many grey areas surrounding the new requirements, our concerns revolve around the additional bureaucracy they will have to address.

“We anticipate that Rating professionals’ roles are likely to change significantly in the coming months, with previous priorities such as overseeing the Check Challenge Appeal process making way for retained support in collating and submitting information on clients’ behalf as they take steps to comply with the new requirements while avoiding lengthy administration duties.

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