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Digitalising business rates could marginalise power among local authorities

23 07 22 Digitalising business rates hero

This week the Government launched a public consultation on Digitalising Business Rates (DBR), setting out and seeking views on how it proposes to connect business rates and tax information. This will impact all ratepaying businesses.

The Government committed to DBR in its conclusions to its Business Rates Review in the Autumn Budget 2021. The proposed new system would link business rates information (held by local billing authorities) to tax records (held by HMRC) and enable businesses to view a copy of business rates billing information for all their non-domestic properties in England in one place, alongside other tax information.

The government has said the new system would allow:

  • opportunities to better target business rates policy, including reliefs, in the future by having access to more comprehensive data

  • more effective compliance

  • a better experience of the business rates and wider tax system for businesses, including the ability to better understand and review their tax liabilities in one place

It claims “DBR represents a major step towards modernisation of the system, which would tackle many of the concerns raised by stakeholders in previous consultations.”

John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers said, “Whist there are some strong merits in the new proposals, in particular this might help Central Government in the distribution of reliefs and grants, it does beggar the question about the long-term role of local authority finance. At present every local authority sends out bills and collects business rates. The proposals would mean local authorities would be in effect sending out bills for Central Government or HMRC which would be taking a more controlling role in the whole process. Would this ultimately lead to business rates being part of HMRC’s overall tax assessment?”

He added, "This could also be a first step on the way to a system of self- assessment for business rates, which has long been floated.”

The work on the new scheme is being led by the DBR team in HMRC and welcomes views from ratepayers, their agents and representatives, billing authorities, and any others who have an interest in the business rates or wider tax system.

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 30 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 90 plus rating team at Colliers International.  When I took over responsibility for the team in 2005, it consisted of only a dozen people and has now grown into one of the leading rating advisory teams in the country.  I am a member of Colliers International Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s promotion panel. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am vocal commentator on the 2017 Revaluation.

I started my career in the Valuation Office Agency in Kidderminster.  I joined Gerald Eve in 2000 where I spent 10 years before moving to Gooch Webster (now Colliers International). I sit on the National Retail Panel of Rating Surveyors Association which provides guidance on how the RSA town committees work with the VOA and valuation matters.  John sits on the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014.

Philip Harrison and I founded 'Accurates' in 2007, the Collier's Compliance and Audit team, which although forms an integral part of the Rating Team is now a leading brand in its own right.

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Suzy Simpson

Head of Content, Communications and PR


London - West End

As Head of Content, Communications & PR for Colliers in the UK, I am responsible for driving the strategic direction of corporate communications, media relations, and the programming and production of multi-channel content to engage external and internal audiences across the UK.

Get in touch for help with: 

  • Content Communication Strategy 
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate & Internal Communications
  • Media Training & Personal Brand Training


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