Over 300,000 current business rates appeals remain log-jammed in the system, according to Colliers International, the global commercial real estate agency and consultancy.
With only weeks to go until the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) publishes new Rateable Values for every non-domestic property in the country, many businesses are still awaiting decisions about appeals lodged up to seven years' ago.
In its response to the government consultation, 'Business rates: delivering more frequent revaluations', Colliers has called on government to introduce a Register of Professional Rating Advisers akin to FCA registration, that would remove the 'cowboy' element and further reduce the level of business rates appeals.
John Webber, Head of Rating, Colliers International, said:
"The VOA is under-resourced, under-mined at every turn and demoralised. It must be very difficult place to work. Although there are rogue business rates advisers making specious appeals, we believe it is sclerotic VOA that has brought the appeals' system grinding to a halt.
"The government's decision to delay the last revaluation will come home to roost in a matter of weeks when we predict massive business rates hikes across London and the South East. This leaves HM Treasury with no alternative except to introduce significant relief to ease the pain.
"While under the pressure from all sides, the VOA is trying to expand its tax base, it is businesses up and down the country who need to prepare for the biggest rates in the generation."
The Government is expected to publish the new draft 2017 rating list on 30 September; providing every company with its 'Rateable Value'. Colliers is campaigning for genuine business rates reform including the need to offer more funding to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) so it can deal with the estimated 300,000 outstanding business rates appeals in the system.
Colliers Manifesto for Business Rates Reform:
- More frequent revaluations, three-yearly, at least, by 2022;
- Increase funding for VOA in order to deal with existing appeals' backlog;
- Release VOA from pressure exerted by local councils and HM Treasury;
- Introduce a register of appeals professionals - removing the 'cowboy' element;
- Iron out inequalities where small businesses pays a higher proportions in business rates
- Root and branch reform of current business rates exemptions and reliefs.