A number of official appeals against business rates have collapsed since the reforms to the appeals system and business rates were introduced back in April 2017. They have since been branded as ‘disastrous’ by many representatives of small business across the country. The new appeals system came into effect at the same time as the first revaluation of business rates for seven years, which pushed some businesses rates up by as much as 3000%.
The appeals system is monitored by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which follows three steps when considering appeals. They will ‘check, challenge and appeal’ each appeal in an attempt to cut down on backlogs and fake claims but it has been described as nearly impossible to use to help challenge calculations that may be incorrect.
The Times was told that between April 1st, when the rules came in, and the end of July, around 2200 businesses had lodged an appeal and started the first stage of their appeal with a ‘check’ of their bill. When compared with 2010, when business rates were last revalued and 57,340 appeals were made in the first three months, this shows over a 90% reduction of the number of businesses who have managed to start the appeals process for their rates.
So far, many companies have struggled to register to appeal their new rates bill, they claim that it is too complex despite the changes being billed as a way to simplify and streamline the appeals process. Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, said the new system has piled “further misery on thousands of small firms.”
After the initial backlash over the rise in business rates and the problems with the administration of the new business rates since April’s revaluation, it seems that these business rates changes have caused a number of problems for a significant amount of small businesses across the UK.
At the moment, many companies are still waiting for the £300 million of emergency funds they were promised before the rates came into effect. The emergency funds were promised in an attempt to ease the affects the increased rates would have on many businesses.
The VOA commented on these appeals figures to say; “The VOA’s check and challenge service is a new service that we are continuing to improve based on customer feedback. We are working closely with our customers and their representatives to understand and address any concerns.”
So for small businesses across the country, it is a stressful time as they try to deal with increased costs at the same time as rising inflation. As they continue to wait for their emergency funds and they struggle to file their claims with the VOA, a large number of small businesses are stuck in a limbo which may be too high for them to manage in the long term.