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Latest business rates appeals figures reveals why government is legislating to rule out COVID-19 appeals


Colliers blast government for ignoring the plight of over 400,000 businesses.

Latest CCA business rates appeals figures (to end March 2021)  show that since 1 April 2020, just after the start of the first Lockdown, 409,430 checks (the first stage of the appeals process) have been registered by businesses, most of whom had been impacted by COVID-19.

This figure dwarfs the 158,910 number of checks registered in the previous three years - since the start of the list in April 2017 to end of March 2020 - and shows the total disruption to hundreds and thousands of businesses caused by COVID -19.

Last month the Government took the unprecedented step of announcing it would legislate that MCC appeals for businesses impacted by COVID-19 would not be valid for the appeal system; a move that was lambasted by the rating profession at the time.

As John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers said, “These latest figures explain why the Government acted as it did and why its Valuation Office Agency (VOA) was allowed to change the law; to prevent 400,000 business rate payers who felt their bills were unfair from contesting them.

“It’s a disgrace. The Government ripped up the rule book retrospectively purely because the numbers were too high. Over 400,000 businesses had gone to the trouble of registering through the tortuous CCA appeals system in good faith, so that their cases could be properly assessed, to find the goal posts moved before their very eyes.”

He continued, “The government offered a £1.5 billion business rates relief fund instead but this comes nowhere near compensating what businesses have lost through the pandemic. And as the government has not begun the process of either putting local authorities in receipt of these funds or giving guidance on how to distribute them, businesses have so far received nothing and are unlikely to in the near future.”

“Given both the Smoking ban and Foot and Mouth were accepted as grounds for MCC appeals, it’s shocking that COVID-19 has been rejected, despite earlier assurances from the VOA. This is pure and simply retrospective legislation, amounting to a retrospective tax increase and created because dealing with the true problem is just too difficult."

Other figures of note revealed by the latest figures further illustrated how appallingly slow the appeals system remains in resolving those rate payers who had managed to get past the Check system. Of 101,260 Challenges to the list to date, there are still 66,370 outstanding, 4 years into the list. And of the 29,340 resolved, only 50% have been “agreed”.

A system worthy of a “Banana Republic” said Webber.

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 35 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 135 plus rating team at Colliers.  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' UK Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s Balance in Business Committee. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am involved in lobbying MPs/ministers and senior civil servants on business rates matters.

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). 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.  I have also held the postion as Chair of the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014. I currently sit on the Rating Surveyors Association National Committee .

Along with Philip Harrison we 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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