Colliers hauls Government over the coals on business rates

GOVERNMENT plans for reforming business rates’ appeals will create a system that is “more confrontational, more litigious and more costly”, according to property consultancy Colliers International, in a letter to Treasury officials.
Colliers – which has a local operation based in Birmingham’s Brindleyplace – is calling on the Government to consider three-yearly revaluation in order to produce a more accurate rateable value, and to reduce the need to appeal.

Its research shows the backlog of appeals is rising, with a 114% increase in outstanding appeals in the year to fourth quarter of 2014.

As of end of Q2 2015, the number of outstanding appeals for the Birmingham City Council catchment stood at 7,780, the second highest of local councils across the UK and the highest outside of London.
It is understood that the Government is now analysing feedback following a two-month consultation on reforming the rates’ system, which it believes would make it “quicker, clearer and a more transparent service”.

However, in a letter to Treasury officials, Colliers has claimed that the proposed changes will severely reduce the rights of ratepayers to challenge their assessments.
John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, said: “With revaluations only every five years, we have clearly created a culture of appeals. We are calling on government to seriously consider three-yearly revaluation as a way of producing a more accurate rateable value, thereby suppressing the need to appeal.”
In addition, extra-funding is required for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in order to deal with the unacceptable backlog of appeals.
Mr Webber said: “Given there is in excess of 289,000 outstanding business rates’ appeals, it is in everyone’s best interests to reform the system. But what we mustn’t do is create a scheme which almost prevents a ratepayer from challenging an assessment.
“Business needs certainty and deserves equality – two major planks of any system of taxation. Colliers’ proposals to move to three-yearly revaluation will reduce the level of appeals, while making it easier for legitimate challenges to business rates’ assessments to be dealt with more efficiently.”

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