Colliers question “amazing success” as hundreds of thousands of business rates appeals wiped out by Government legislation.
Latest CCA business rates appeals figures (to end December 2021) show the VOA has had the highest ever success rate in resolving checks and challenges since the list began on 1 April 2017. But according to business rates experts at Colliers, this result is only due to the Government outlawing COVID-19 MCC appeals in one foul swoop.
According to latest figures of the 625,070 checks registered since the start of the list, 617,420 (or a massive 99%) are now resolved.
And of 117,370 challenges, some 92,550 (or 79%) are now resolved also. Latest figures show there are now only 12,120 challenges in the list outstanding, compared to three months ago when there were 63,780 outstanding. According to Colliers, the impact of the government’s knock out legislation is evident.
As John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers says, “Looking at the latest stats, on the surface it appears that the VOA has had its most efficient and successful quarter ever in dealing with businesses appealing against their business rates and by implication that the current system is working.”
However, Colliers say, the reality is much darker. Last March the government, concerned about the enormous number of MCC appeals lodged by businesses impacted by COVID-19 (around 450,000 checks were registered by businesses since the first lockdown) took the unprecedented step of announcing it would legislate that COVID-19 MCC appeals would not be valid for the appeals system.
Instead, the government offered a £1.5 billion business rates relief fund, which would “get cash to affected businesses in the most proportionate and equitable way.” This move that was lambasted by the industry at the time, as unprecedented and “ripping up” the ratings rule book retrospectively.
In December 2021 this legislation became law and overnight the record number of appeals were struck out in one blow.
As John Webber comments, “Overnight nearly 450,000 businesses, who had paid their full rate bills during the pandemic, despite the disruption to their businesses, found the goalposts moved as they lost their right to appeal against their businesses rates bills. Many of these businesses are now still waiting for their share of the £1.5 billion business rates relief fund, for which guidance for distribution has only just been announced. Not only does £1.5 billion go nowhere near covering the amount of business rates rebates such businesses should have received, but its distribution is so unwieldly that it will take many months to reach the right pockets.”
“Meanwhile the VOA is able to announce squeaky clean results that give the appearance it is doing a great job and all in the garden is rosy. It’s a disgrace that such business distress has just been brushed under the carpet.”