Business rates

The business rates regime is a complex and technical area. Business rates are set every five years (though the 2010 revaluation has been delayed until 2017) and there are often grounds to appeal against the rateable value assigned to your commercial property.

Maximising savings and minimising bureaucracy

Our focus for occupiers (both public and private), investors and developers alike is to manage rate liabilities at no risk. We aim to remove your bureaucratic burden and maximise your savings.

We outperform the industry – settling 57% of all appeals with a reduction against an industry average of 37%.  Our average reduction on these successful appeals is 13.5%, compared to a total national average of just 2.85%.

Empty rates consultancy

Business rates are not only a punitive overhead for occupiers but a tax on property ownership through the empty rate regime. Our creative service can navigate the pitfalls. We have actively campaigned against empty rates since their inception and have produced research in this contentious area in association with the RICS. 

Find out more about our empty rates consultancy

Keep up to date with business rates issues

We produce regular viewpoints and research on business rates issues, featuring regular contributions from Government ministers and the Valuation Office. 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.


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.


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.

Zurich logo
Minimising business rates - Zurich Assurance Ltd
  • Fall in rental value identified in rent review
  • Collating evidence to support claim
  • Expert witness statement at Valuation Tribunal helped win case
  • Reduction in rateable value of 10%
  • Principle now under discussion in multiple cities
Read more


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!

The next business rates revaluation for properties in England, Scotland and Wales will come into effect on 1 April 2017 and will be based on rental values as at 1 April 2015.

A re-balancing exercise

As a result of the Government's postponement of the 2015 revaluation, it will have been a whole seven years since business rates were last assessed by the time the new rateable values are announced. During this time, there has been a significant movement in rental values across all sectors and locations. 

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is in the process of issuing statutory questionnaires to ratepayers of more than 1.8m business properties across England, Scotland and Wales, requesting information such as rental and trading figures in order to assist with determining individual assessments.

Time is of the essence

It is important that these questionnaires are completed as accurately and swiftly as possible as this information will be vital in determining more accurate levels of assessment to be applied. Failure to do so could also result in a £100 fine!

The VOA will publish the draft 2017 rateable values on 30 September 2016, with the final list coming into effect on 1 April 2017. While this might seem like a long way off, there are things that can be done in the meantime.

Our business rates experts can:

  • Assist with the completion of the statutory questionnaire 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 (they will be issued online only);

  • Explore opportunities for challenging the new rateable values and making appeals as appropriate.  The process of business rates appeals is likely to change if the Enterprise Bill is passed.

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

News, research and views

News and research

Contact us now

Paul Easton

0191 338 8277

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