Property firm criticises 'underwhelming' consultation on business rates reform

15 February 2022 by
Property firm criticises 'underwhelming' consultation on business rates reform

Property firm Colliers has criticised the government's consultation on business rates reform in England as "underwhelming" and urged operators to respond before the 22 February deadline.

As part of an overhaul of the system the government has committed to more frequent revaluations every three years from 2023 in a bid to ensure rates assessments are more accurate.

However, Colliers has warned this shorter cycle will reduce appeal rights and add an administrative burden on ratepayers.

It said the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will require ratepayers to provide updates on rent, lease, and trading information on an annual basis even when there have been no changes.

"This will pass a significant bureaucratic burden onto the ratepayer, which we believe is neither needed nor healthy for UK plc," said John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers.

He added: "To put into context, currently out of approximately 1.9 million ratepayers, 700,000 pay no business rates. These changes will therefore result in these 700,000 ratepayers being required to send one or more pieces of information annually to the VOA, involving them in a bureaucratic exercise where their information is unlikely to be used."

The property firm said it was concerned that businesses could face penalties if they fail to provide the right information within a short window of time.

It added that plans to introduce investment relief to encourage businesses to adopt green technologies like solar panels should go further to ensure there is greater incentive to invest in sustainable technology.

Colliers also said it had "doubts" about plans to introduce improvement relief to qualify works ratepayers carry out on their premises, as landlords and developers are exempted.

The government has also proposed simplifying the system which administers discretionary relief on behalf of councils, however Colliers said the "continued underfunding" of local authorities meant any changes were "meaningless".

Webber said: "Overall, the government's failure to deliver the much-needed fundamental business rates reform last Autumn and replacing it with this consultation is desperately disappointing.

"We urge all interested parties to let the government know this and to respond before the consultation ends next week or they could find themselves snarled up with extra expense and administration."

To contribute to the government consultation click here.

Image: William Barton / Shutterstock

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