Rating

Business rates are a tax on the right to occupy commercial premises and are a significant financial burden for most organisations.

The amount you pay is based upon the Rateable Value of your property, which is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) using rental market evidence and is re-assessed typically every five years - a process known as revaluation.

2017 Revaluation

The 2017 Business Rates revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2017 and introduced new rateable values for all commercial properties in England and Wales* based on rental values as at 1 April 2015.

In the seven years that have passed since the last revaluation, there have been wide variations in how rents have moved, creating some significant regional and sectoral variations.

>> Download our 2017 regional winners and losers map

New appeal system

The Government has also introduced a new appeal system to coincide with the 2017 Business Rates revaluation, known as 'Check Challenge Appeal'. Ratepayers and their advisors will now have to follow this three-stage process if they disagree with their new rateable value:

  1. Check:
    The ratepayer or agent can request details of the information relied upon by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to determine the new rateable value and ‘Check’ it for factual errors, with any amendments submitted as a formal declaration. Once receipt of the ‘Check’ has been formally acknowledged, the VOA has up to 12 months to decide whether to accept the proposed changes and amend the rateable value. If no agreement can be reached, the ratepayer or agent can officially ‘Challenge’ the rateable value within four months of receiving the VOA’s decision, or after 12 months have elapsed.
  2. Challenge: 
    In order to ‘Challenge’ the rating list entry, the ratepayer or agent must prepare a detailed submission setting out the reasons for disputing the rateable value, including an alternative valuation backed by supporting evidence. If no agreement can be reached, the ratepayer or agent can ‘Appeal’ to the Valuation Tribunal for England within four months of receiving the VOA’s decision, or 18 months have elapsed.
  3. Appeal: 
    The Tribunal will consider whether the VOA has made the correct decision in respect of the challenge, based on the evidence put forward at the ‘Challenge’ stage – no fresh evidence will be permissible unless formal agreement is sought from the VOA. If the Tribunal disagrees with the VOA’s decision, it may conclude that the ratepayer’s proposed rating list entry is correct, or alternatively it may substitute its own. The ratepayer or agent cannot change the grounds of the ‘Challenge’ (even though some may have been resolved) and cannot introduce fresh evidence without the formal agreement of the VOA. A fee of up to £300 will also be levied (refunded where the Tribunal outcome is in favour of the appellant).

However, as the new process is managed online through the Government Gateway, the ratepayer must first register for an account (both for the organisation and the individual) in order to claim their properties and invite their agent(s) to act on their behalf, before initiating any CCA action. This process in itself places a significant additional burden on the ratepayer.

>> View the Government Gateway authentication process

These changes have introduced a great deal of uncertainty and bureaucracy to the business rates system, making it increasingly complicated, costly and time-consuming for ratepayers to challenge their assessments going forward.

Our professionally qualified team of Business Rates experts can advise you through every step of the process to help keep your liabilities to a minimum and generate maximum savings wherever possible. Our services include:

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.

We have a strong track record 

At 46%, our appeal success rate against the 2010 Rating List is one of the highest in the UK and outperforms the industry average by more than 50%.

We have reduced our clients’ rateable values against the 2010 Rating List by an average of 19% on appeal, resulting in total savings of over £530m. 

We have generated additional cash savings of more than £16m since 2005 through effective rate management and historical audit.

We know the market

Our 57-strong Business Rates team is backed up by a network of over 1,500 staff in 35 locations across the UK and Ireland, which provides us with access to unrivalled local and regional market evidence and allows us to successfully challenge even the most complicated rating assessment. 

We have the best equipment  

Our unique software platforms combine to form a powerful business tool, which provides access to a host of intelligent data and analytics at the click of a button.   

We understand your business  

From small independent museums to giant retail warehouses, police stations to headquarter office buildings (and everything in between), we understand the complexities of valuing and occupying each individual class of property and how this impacts on your business rates liabilities, which means our mitigation strategies are always tailored to your individual needs.   

We’re quality assured  

We’re regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and many of our surveyors are also members of the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) and the Rating Surveyors Association (RSA) so you can be assured of our professional conduct at all times. 

We’ve got our finger on the pulse 

Business Rates is very much a hot topic at present; barely a day passes by without so-called ‘experts’ commenting on changes in legislation and the impact this is having on businesses across a variety of regions and sectors.  We keep our clients informed through our online publication, Rating in Brief. Click here to sign up to future editions.

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

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!

News, research and views

News and research

Contact us now

Paul Easton
Director - National Head of Business Rates

0191 338 8277

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