Just weeks before the draft new rateable values for c. 1.8m non-domestic properties across England and Wales are released at the end of September, statistics published by the VOA show that almost 300,000 appeals - approximately 29% of the total submitted over the duration of the 2010 rating list - remain unresolved.
“These figures clearly prove that the VOA does not have sufficient resources and has a declining number of experienced professional staff to resolve the appeals. It also has had to deal with the revaluation which diverted staff from casework and there will inevitably be a knock-on effect when the revaluation comes into effect,” comments Beverley McDougall, Director in LSH’s Business Rates team.
“We anticipate that there will be a deluge of more appeals on the current rating list before the cut off of 31st March 2017. This will exacerbate the backlog and inevitably delay discussions to correct the 2017 rating list. Instead of consulting on their proposals for yet more unworkable changes to the appeals system and penalising the ratepayer even further, the government needs to increase funding and resources to the VOA to help it get its own house in order and tackle the ever-increasing backlog of existing appeals,” she added.
Beverley concluded: “We openly accept that there is a major issue in the number of appeals that are resolved without any alteration to the list. A lot of these are speculative appeals revolving around material changes of circumstances (MCCs). Yes, the administration and processing of these is costly but speculative appeals need to be made as you don’t know at outset if there is going to be any effect or not. The real problem lies with rather less scrupulous agents looking to make a quick buck for submitting unsubstantiated appeals; a major bugbear among professional rating advisors. This could be easily rectified by making it mandatory for appeals to be submitted by those rating advisors who are affiliated to professional associations such as the RICS and IRRV.”