Bosses look to Chancellor to reduce rates confusion

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 14 Nov 2017

BUSINESSES owners will be looking to the Chancellor for the second time this year for signs of help in the Budget with a rates system that is delivering cost and confusion with the prospect of more to come.

Adrian Smith, founder of AS Rating in Hull, said  businesses are still struggling to access the “check, challenge, appeal” system introduced by the Government as part of this year’s revaluation process.

Meanwhile, there are still more than 200,000 appeals pending from the revaluation processes in 2005 and 2010 and the effectiveness of various forms of relief introduced in an attempt to cushion the blow of rates increases has faced stiff questioning.

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Mr Smith said: “The Spring Budget brought a number of measures that were intended to ease the burden for businesses faced with big rates increases as a result of revaluation.

“Less than nine months on we approach another Budget and many of the concerns remain the same, but it is doubtful whether the Chancellor will have the same level of freedom to offer assistance.”

Among the measures introduced earlier this year was a doubling of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), with the result that generally businesses do not have to pay rates if their rateable value is below £12,000.

The Government also introduced a cap of £600 on increases for those businesses that lost their SBRR because of revaluation. It created a fund of £300m, made available through local authorities to help businesses that faced hardship because of rates increases and it offered a discount of £1,000 to some pubs.

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Businesses and rates specialists continue to voice concern about an appeals process which has been branded “shambolic”, and they now fear further rates increases from April 2018 with the Uniform Business Rate driven by the RPI rate of inflation for September of 3.9 per cent.

Adrian said: “The problems with the check, challenge, appeal process are becoming an old story, but one that won’t go away. At the last count, there were about 15,000 appeals outstanding from the 2005 revaluation and about 235,000 from 2010. The only reason there aren’t any from this year’s revaluation is that the system restricts the opportunities for ratepayers to submit appeals.

“Meanwhile, it is expected that rates bills will increase in April because of the RPI increase in September and questions remain about the value of some of the relief packages that were introduced.

“The hope among businesses is that the Chancellor will be able to find something in this month’s Budget to alleviate their concerns, but the fear is that he may not have much room to manoeuvre. 

“Many businesses are struggling for cash, but so is the Government and Brexit is a factor for both parties.”

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