As the result of a Freedom of Information Act, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has confirmed that businesses across England and Wales that query the amount they pay currently have to wait an average of 369 days to get clarification of their appeal.
While this clarification period is a significant wait, many companies should thank themselves lucky as their counterparts in South Oxfordshire can wait as long as 526 days – nearly two years. Those faring the best were in Leicester whose average wait is just 281 days.
Paul Easton, National Head of Business Rates at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “Over the last seven years, the system has been getting progressively worse to a point of almost meltdown.
“Unfortunately the VOA (the Government body which sets business rates) is struggling to get enough qualified staff to do the work, and as a result cannot cope with the number of outstanding appeals. What this means is that businesses that query their rateable value may have to pay significantly more than they should for more than a year, which could drive some businesses under.
“The Government is planning to implement new regulations soon, which is likely to mean that businesses will wait even longer. As such, I would strongly advise all medium to large businesses to speak to a reputable business rates consultant, not just to ensure that their current liability is minimized, but to prepare for the 2017 revaluation. The sooner that businesses can assess the accuracy of their rateable value, the sooner they can join the increasingly long queue of businesses trying to get their rates bill adjusted, should they need to.”