Government's plans to limit business rates rebates

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Government are planning to restrict business rate appeals against the tax that will raise £23.9billion in England this year, just 6 months into a new 5 year tax regime.

It is understood that the Government see "clear benefits to introducing a cut-off point for appeals" and that they "intend to put forward proposals before April 2018 for setting a fixed time limit for appeals."

Greg Clarke, Secretary of State for Business, at a Conservative Home fringe event at the 2017 Party Conference last week told the party faithful that a fundamental business rates review was at "advanced stage" and "may even be part of the Autumn Budget."

The news comes as the Valuation Office Agency’s (VOA) new business rates appeals process is in ‘disarray,’ Council Finance Bosses have claimed.

The Valuation Office Agency, an Executive Agency of HM Revenue & Customs, launched 'Check. Challenge. Appeal.' on 1st April 2017 in support of the Government’s aim of reforming the rating appeal system, with David Gauke, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, saying that the aim was to crack down on speculative appeals which were "clogging up the system".

But there have been complaints from business and trade bodies that the new system is a bureaucratic nightmare, replete with red tape and an online portal that was not fit for purpose, with the Government admitting the new system has been beset by "technical IT problems”.

Now, Council Finance Bosses have also complained that they have still not received any data on appeals following the 2017 Rating List.

We believe that the conversations that we must be having right now are not about restricting business rates rebates, but about making the new regulations work better for business.

The Government has earmarked £1.3billion for tax rebates this financial year against the new property valuations which came into force in April under the revaluation according to DCLG.

Whilst appeals to challenge 2010 property valuations had to be lodged before 31st March 2015 if any retrospective benefit was to be gained, that was the end of the scheduled 5 year rating cycle which was extended by 2 years because of economic conditions.