The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is swamped with a huge backlog of appeals against changes in business rates after the last revaluation, dating back to 2010.
That's according to the British Hospitality Association (BHA), which said that there were over 250,000 appeals against the current 2010 Rating List are still outstanding, mearning that even before the new Rateable Values come into effect on 1 April, the authorities face an uphill task to clear the backlog.
David Shuttleworth, vice-president of Altus UK, the business rate specialist surveyors which is advising the BHA on the matter, said: "Our latest figure is that businesses are awaiting resolution of over 250,000 appeals from up to seven years ago and they have to pay the higher rate until their case is concluded."
The backlog may well be swelled significantly due to the deadline for appeal against the 2010 rating assessments being 31 March this year, he added.
BHA chief exeuctive Ufi Ibrahim said the figures showed the situation was "already chaotic" and called on the government to reform the whole business rate process.
But the VOA said that the figures "clearly show how the appears process is being clogged up by spurious claims".
A spokesman said that over 70% of appeals led to no change to a business's rateable value.
"VOA will continue to clear the appeals and at the same time introduce reforms to ensure businesses have the chance to check, challenge and appeal their bills quickly and easily," he added.
He confirmed that the average increase in Rateable Values on hotels for the 2017 revaluation is around 23% with some places a lot higher. Westminster, central London, has seen a rise of 39%. In Eastbourne, on the south coast, it is 47%.
Ibrahim said: "We have asked the Valuation Office, through Freedom of Information requests, for the exact number of hospitality and tourism businesses who have appealed and what remains outstanding. Whatever that number an already chaotic situation is about to get a whole lot worse. It is clear, even now, that through no fault of its own the valuation office is underfunded and thus over run and that, as a result, many businesses are already being put under severe pressure."
She continued: "With next month's increases, and the lack of clarity concerning the new appeal process, thousands of small businesses are faced with huge increases and thus an uncertain future. In the first instance the chancellor should follow the lead of the Scottish government and limit any increase for hospitality businesses to 12.5% and in the second the UK government should look at their whole business rate plan again. Many of our members are small businesses already just about managing. They are the people that our prime minister says she supports. She should show that support now. And so should the chancellor in the Budget."
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