Rating

The next Business Rates revaluation for non-domestic properties in England, Scotland and Wales will come into effect on 1 April 2017; seven years since the last revaluation and nine years since the antecedent valuation date (when rental and other transactional evidence was gathered in order to set the current rateable values). A lot has changed since then.

Preparations are underway

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is already well underway with its preparations, collecting and analysing information on over 1.8m properties across England and Wales. A similar exercise is also taking place in Scotland.

However, the length of time which has passed since the current rateable values were set, and the series of economic events that have taken place in between, have led to diverse swings in property values across all sectors and areas of the UK. Consequently, we believe there is scope for error in valuation and accuracy.

Going forward, the Chancellor has committed to introducing more frequent revaluations, to at least every three years, which should mean that future rating lists are more in tune with prevailing economic conditions. Read more in our Budget 2016 edition of Rating in Brief.

The Business Rates system in England is also undergoing significant reform through the recently enacted Enterprise Bill which affects the way rateable values are challenged going forward through the proposed three-stage process 'Check, Challenge, Appeal'. It is therefore important to take professional advice before submitting any information to the VOA.

Our Countdown to 2017 guide sets out the key dates that all ratepayers need to be aware of in the lead-up to the 2017 revaluation. 

In addition, our Business Rates experts can:

  • Assist with the completion of the statutory Form of Return to ensure the revaluation is as accurate as possible;

  • Provide estimates of the likely rates payable from 1 April 2017 onwards for budgetary purposes; 

  • Check the draft rateable values for accuracy once issued;
    Explore opportunities for challenging the new rateable values and make appeals as appropriate;

  • Explore current opportunities for reducing the 2010 Rating List entry, historic rate liability audit, business rate payment and management to maximise savings.

To find out more about how we can help you in the lead-up to the 2017 revaluation, contact one of our Business Rates experts.

Business rates are a local property tax, payable by the occupiers of commercial, industrial and some other non-domestic properties to their local authority. The income from business rates is used to fund the general provision of services throughout the county including public lighting, footpath repair and maintenance, car parking, traffic management, parks, sports facilities and playgrounds, drains, river basin management and flood alleviation, litter management, enforcement of waste regulations, the fire service, planning service, libraries, community and arts facilities and Local Government representation. Rates are calculated by multiplying the rateable valuation of a property, as determined by the Commissioner of Valuation, by the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) which is determined every year by each local council at their respective Annual Budget meetings.

Under the Valuation Act 2001, provision was made for a revaluation of all commercial and industrial property in Ireland. The last revaluation in Ireland was completed in 1852 and currently all rateable valuations are based on rental values as at November 1988. Rental Values have adjusted considerably over the more recent past and a revaluation is required to bring a closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability. The Valuation Office (VO), the State property valuation agency, commenced a national programme to revalue all commercial and industrial property across all local authorities in Ireland. The VO’s intention is to carry out a revaluation of all relevant properties every 10 years.

Minimise operating costs

Commercial Rates are a significant annual operational outgoing for your business. There are only a limited number of instances in which your rateable valuation can be disputed including a local authority revaluation and a revision of the property as a result of a material change in circumstances. We provide a professional approach to proactively reviewing all information concerning the revaluation or revision of your property enabling a strategic assessment and negotiation of your annual rates liability. 

Empty rates consultancy

Business rates are not only a punitive overhead for occupiers but a tax on property ownership as a result of a vacancy within the premises. Our specialist team offers a variety of solutions to reduce your outgoings on vacant property. 

Register to keep up to date on business rates issues

Our national team of specialists, backed by our bespoke valuation software, will guide you safely through a complex and technical regime.

Bespoke solutions and specialist skills

We offer a tailor made solution – from complete business rates management through to specific consultancy advice. Our range of skills and regional coverage allows us to allocate the appropriate resource to any specialist sector, anywhere in the UK and Ireland.

Explore our business rates specialisms

Our QA audited system and internally developed computer system is industry leading. Our surveyors have an average of 20 years’ professional experience.

A collaborative approach that drives results

Our clients decide on the extent of our service and we are happy to be judged on our results.

Our approach is collaborative: we do the legwork and recover the money; you reward us from the results. We’re also prepared to structure our terms of business to incorporate success-related fees.

We keep our clients close and informed but our relationships with local authorities and government agencies (the Valuation Office) are also key to our success.

We provide advice in a number of specialist ratings areas.

Advertising

We’ve been the leading UK provider of business rates and lease advisory advice to advertising contractors since 1990.  We’ve represented clients in more than 6000 rating assessments, covering over £10m rateable value, saving in excess of £2.8m since 1995.

Our expertise includes business rates assessments for ‘specials’, banners, street furniture and conventional sites. We also provided specialist advice to the Outdoor Advertising Association during the 2005 Rating List.

Educational establishments

We offer an experienced business rates advisory service to local authorities, private and independent schools, further education colleges and public body training sectors across the UK.

We’ve appealed in excess of £110m rateable value of education assessments, making savings exceeding £12m in respect of advice on the 2005  rating list.

Football stadia

We are the leading supplier of business rates advice to Premier League and Football League clubs. We currently advise 28 clubs throughout England and Wales, including six in the Premier League. Under the 2005 rating list, we have achieved savings in excess of £5m for our clients by applying specialist valuation techniques.

As industry leaders, we are leading direct negotiations with the Valuation Office Agency  in order to agree a national valuation basis for business rates.

Hotels

We provide business rates advice to national and local hoteliers throughout the UK.

We have challenged over 200 rating assessments within the hotel industry on the 2005 rating list, achieving savings of more than £12m.

Motor trade

We are the leading UK provider of business rates advice to car dealerships, petrol retailers, car supermarkets, car auction sites and car storage sites. We’ve represented our clients in over 1450 UK motor trade business rates assessments covering £90.25m rateable value.

We also agreed a framework standard for car dealerships at 2010 revaluation.

The police estate

Police authorities throughout the UK facing increasing demands on services and ever tightening budgetary constraints.

Our business rates services will help to maximise police resources by improving efficiency, identifying savings and increasing financial returns.

Ports and docks

We offer an experienced business rates service tailored to the specialist requirements of operators of statutory port areas. We’re the biggest provider of business rates services to the ports industry in the UK.

Our services include agreeing a clear basis of assessment with the Valuation Office Agency, expert witness, advice on empty property rates and budgetary advice on the 2010 rating revaluation.

Water Industry

We have been the leading advisers in respect of business rates to the water industry for many years.

We currently advise six water companies and to date have secured savings in excess of £15million on the 2010 Rating List

As the industry leaders we have led direct negotiations with the Valuation Office Agency in order to agree a national basis of valuation for sewage disposal works.

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Tips

Business managers and their accountants are often swamped by bureaucracy and red tape but some simple steps in dealing with your business rates bill can save you time and money.

Here are some easy steps that businesses can follow to save on their business rates.

Take advice BEFORE signing

Scrutinise your rate demand and ask the local authority to explain the calculation. If you are still not clear, ask a chartered surveyor to verify.

Beware cowboy operators and never pay up front

Beware any rating ‘expert’ who promises or guarantees success; this is a skilled property valuation requiring knowledge, investigation and evidence. Ask people for a track record and their professional credentials.

Your own status may provide relief

Relief may be available for the following property types: listed buildings, industrial premises, non-profit making or philanthropic enterprises, shared accommodation, disabled accommodation, agricultural properties, places of religious worship, village businesses, small businesses, domestic accommodation, some educational establishments and sports clubs.

Talk to your neighbours

There may be wide discrepancies in the way similar properties are valued for rating purposes and appeals can make reference to comparable properties. Also, there is often strength in numbers when appealing rateable values or applying for relief.

Physical disruption

Look for any physical disruption such as road works or buildings and including self inflicted nuisance including your own fit out or an extension. Temporary allowances against rate liability are available.

Always budget even if you do not receive a bill

Rating bill will likely catch-up with you at some point. Also, rates will increase annually by inflation so expect annual increases in March/April.

Check the Valuation Office Agency website

Check the post to avoid fines

Failure to respond in time can incur costly fines and penalties. Also, try to avoid late payments, which will lead to additional costs, which may not be recoverable.

On the other hand, be wary of late charges from the council as these can often be challenged and mitigated.

Take advice before improving your building

This will allow you to budget properly for on-going overheads. Rates are often an unaccounted for cost and a nasty surprise.

Expect bureaucratic delay

Be prepared for a delay in dealing with any appeal. Also, be patient; any refund can be backdated with interest!

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