Firms may get a budget sweetener says Hull expert

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 8 Mar 2017

A BUSINESS rates expert will be looking for the Government to announce measures in today’s Budget to soften the impact of revaluation.

Adrian Smith, who predicted last year that changes to rateable values would hit some businesses particularly hard, said Chancellor Philip Hammond is likely to respond to calls for action.

But Mr Smith warns that businesses which face big increases in their rates are likely to be offered sweeteners rather than significant reductions.

He said: “Significant increases and decreases in business rates are phased in through transitional relief.

“The increases are generally applied more quickly than the decreases, though, and it is possible that the Chancellor will look at that.

“Another option might be to introduce another form of rate relief.

“Retail rate relief was withdrawn last year and the Chancellor may announce something which provides more general assistance, while also limiting the cost to the Government.”

Mr Smith, who founded AS Rating in 2000 after spending 25 years working for the Inland Revenue, opened a fourth office in the Hull area last year in readiness for the rush of business from the rates revaluation process.

He said: “My workload has trebled in the past month as more businesses have become aware of what the changes are likely to mean for them.

“Because of the preparations that we made last year we are ready for the influx of enquiries, and we know it will continue.”

The draft rating list published last October showed that many businesses in Hull would see their rates fall.

But in some areas of the East Riding, business owners were facing an increase in rateable values of as much as 300 per cent.

Rates demands will drop through doors this month for payment next month.

The process for challenging rateable values is one element that Mr Smith would like to see the Government address, but he does not hold out much hope of changes in the near future.

He said: “Some businesses have seen their rates reduced as a result of revaluation and some have dropped out of paying rates altogether as a result of the doubling of small business rate relief to £12,000.

“It’s possible but unlikely that the Chancellor will increase that further.

“From what I have seen, the businesses which are being hit the hardest in our area are small businesses which occupy large space in rural areas – operators of stables, kennels and catteries, for example.

“They can challenge the new rateable values and I am helping some businesses to do that, but the current ‘check, challenge, appeal’ procedure is something that should be changed as part of the wider reforms which business groups are demanding. But reform on that scale takes time.”

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