Secretary of State Greg Clark has announced plans to simplify business rate appeals systems, promising that businesses will benefit from a quicker and more efficient service when checking and challenging their business rates bills.
The new “check, challenge, appeal” process will help prevent speculative appeals, and make sure genuine disputes are settled more quickly for all involved.
Businesses will now go through a 3-stage process:
Check – ensuring the relevant facts are up to date and accurate, with any agreed errors quickly corrected. For the vast majority of rate payers it is expected that this check stage will be complete in a matter of days.
Challenge – allowing the business to challenge the rateable value on which their business rates bill is based, giving them the opportunity to set out their grounds for challenging, an alternative valuation and to put forward supporting evidence - it is expected that the great majority of cases to be resolved by this point.
Appeal – offering the opportunity to appeal to an independent valuation tribunal.
To help improve the flow of information between ratepayers and the Valuation Office Agency a new simple online service will allow customers to provide information about their property as often as they like and to track the progress of their check or challenge.
With this streamlined process, and improved information exchange between ratepayers and customers, it is expected that the vast majority of cases will be settled in the check and challenge phases.
A new £300 fee will be charged for anyone looking to lodge an appeal, to try to deter speculative cases and therefore reduce the queue and so reduce the length of time taken to hear an appeal. The fee will be refunded if an appeal is successful.
To meet small businesses needs a tailored package will be offered providing:
· a fast track through the system
· clear guidance which will help them navigate the system without professional support
· lower levels of fees for making an appeal, which will be refunded if successful
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark said “For too long we’ve had an appeals system where backlogged cases – often caused by unscrupulous agents eyeing up a fast buck – meant unnecessary costs and uncertainty for all involved.
That’s why we are going ahead with our plans to streamline the process and help resolve cases as quickly and fairly as possible.
The vast majority of disputes will now be settled long before lengthy litigation and will mean businesses and councils can get on with planning budgets, confident they are getting a fair deal.”