BACKGROUND

  • Our Accurates forensic audit specialists were called in to carry out a range of bespoke specialist ‘anomaly’ searches and scans within our databases and software systems on the company’s portfolio.
  • Our ‘initiatives’ are able to cover identified rating anomaly issues over the life of each of the 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005 rating lists. They also include verifying any adjustment/ balancing activity carried out by local revenues officers in respect of historic and current business rate accounts.

APPROACH

  • Our approach in this case was to carefully take apart then re-construct the rate charges for the company’s main site going back to 1990. We then compared our virtual demand notices to the records of the billing authority.
  • Our systems highlighted a potentially serious anomaly in the methodology for creating the original charging path. However, this did not guarantee in any way that we would achieve a successful cost recovery. There are complex statutory calculations that Billing Authorities are obliged to carry out as a consequence of regulations for the various rating lists.

NEGOTIATION

  • Having identified the potential non-compliance, more detailed investigative work had to be carried out to ascertain whether this would result in an actual overpayment recovery. We therefore presented an appropriate and fully reasoned case to the determining officer for the billing authority, setting out our interpretation of the relevant rating legislation and how we believed the circumstances should lead to a refund.
  • Following seven months of discussions and correspondence, the Revenues Manager eventually agreed with our interpretations of the legislation. An internal report was issued to the Director of Finance (the statutory Section 151 officer) to explain the error that had been made and more importantly to secure the Chief Financial Officer’s authority to refund the overpayment. 

RESULTS

  • As a result, the combined effect of our technical knowledge, negotiation skills and management of the issues we were able to retrospectively reduce the company’s rate liability for the period 1 April 1995 - 31 March 1998 by £1.9 million.

ACCURATES - KEY WORKING METHODS:

  • Desktop forensic analyses of computed liabilities within our Midlands compliance audit centre to avoid disruption to clients’ operational activities;
  • Identification of potential for reduced business rate charges via the examination of ‘virtual’ demand notices produced using our rate liability calculator programmes;
  • Selection of most appropriate and effective methods for securing the maximum rebate for clients, both retrospectively and going forward;
  • Preparation, submission and monitoring of detailed compliance and audit claims to billing authorities by Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation qualified former local authority revenues officers;
  • Negotiation of claims with billing authorities, including any responses to Revenues Officers’ queries;
  • Ensuring local interpretations, judgements, determinations and systems meet legal and administrative requirements.