commercial property lambert smith hampton

News - 12/08/2014

LSH supports abandonment of plans to further tinker with rates appeals

News that the Government is to abandon proposals that would have complicated the procedures for rating appeals has been welcomed by Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH).

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The latest decision removes the threat of increased layers of bureaucracy further clogging up the rating appeals system and an anticipated surge of appeals will now be avoided.
Following a brief period of consultation earlier this year, the Government said it intended to significantly amend the procedures for making a rating appeal with effect from October.
Paul Nash, Head of Rating, said: “The intentions may have been laudable, in that they would require rating advisors to think carefully before making an appeal. However, the reality was that this was likely to result in a flood of appeals prior to the change, additional work and significantly more complexity to what is already a long-winded procedure.
“This move was in part made as a result of lengthy delays of many months or even years between an appeal being lodged and it being programmed for negotiation. Consequently, those businesses with genuine claims for a reduction in their business rates were being forced to wait for lengthy periods to receive refunds.”
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has, however, made progress in clearing this backlog and proposals made today may be programmed for negotiation within a period of weeks.
Paul added: “If the proposed amendments to rating procedures had gone ahead, more detailed reasons for the proposal would have to have been included at the initial proposal stage.
“This could be rejected by the VOA if they did not feel that the grounds for challenge were valid. With the ratepayer then able to challenge this decision, there was the potential for greatly increased bureaucracy for all concerned.” 
In the longer term, the proposed changes may have resulted in a decrease in the number of appeals made without due consideration. However, in the short term a huge surge of appeals clogging up the system further.
He added: “This is yet another example of the Government tinkering with the rating system and introducing policies that have not been fully thought through. This follows other policy changes including the introduction of vacant property rates on empty properties, which has deterred speculative development and resulted in landlords with empty property being hit harder by increased tax burdens. 
“More recently, a delay in the revaluation was announced from 2015 to 2017, meaning that occupiers in areas with the largest reduction in property and rental values have been unable to benefit from corresponding reductions in rates bills.
“We therefore welcome the news that these proposed changes have been shelved until such time as proper consultation has been undertaken.”

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