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Coronavirus resources – business rates update
Author of the AIM Guide to Successfully Negotiating Business Rates, Lambert Smith Hampton’s Colin Hunter explains recent changes to the valuation timeline following the coronavirus outbreak.
Following the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe since early March, the UK Government has announced a number of interventions in respect to business rates in an attempt to keep businesses afloat and reduce uncertainty. The first being the introduction of various reliefs and grant schemes for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure properties.
Most recently however, the Government announced the postponement of the 2021 Revaluation for England. It was expected that all Rateable Values would be replaced next year with a Revaluation effective from 1 April 2021 and a valuation date of 1 April 2019. This more frequent Revaluation required a change to the current legislation which set the date at 1 April 2022. The Bill that was introduced to effect that change was first put before Parliament in 2019 but fell by the wayside when the General Election was announced. It has been re-introduced but has been in limbo since the lockdown.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has been working for the last two or more years on the 2021 Revaluation drawing precious resources away from dealing with the appeal process. Apparently they are more than 95% of the way towards completing the 2021 draft Rating Lists.
Blessing in disguise
Rather fortuitously, the delay means that we (ratepayers and their advisors) have more time to test and challenge the 2017 Rating List and ensure fair and reasonable levels of value, backdated to 1 April 2017.
We have been patiently waiting to see how the appeal for Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is finally resolved in the expectation that this will allow a wider discussion with the VOA on the valuation of museums and galleries with a view to Rateable Values that are linked to the real world ability of the museums to pay the notional rents that the Rateable Values should reflect. The delay of the Revaluation by one year means that there is a much greater chance that this will happen before the new List starts.
There is another promised/threatened review of business rates and the funding of local authorities. Another year may allow time for that to take place before the new Rating List comes into force.
On the negative side a number of property sectors, especially retail, but also hospitality and leisure, have been expecting some reduction in the relative burden of business rates at the Revaluation but this will now be delayed.
All in all there have been a lot of changes to the world of business rates for England and, to a lesser extent, Wales and Scotland since the beginning of March 2020. If you are unsure how this will impact on your rates liability advice is available. Please visit www.lsh.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.