December 18, 2019

WHAT WILL BORIS DO WITH BUSINESS RATES?

Following on from last Thursday’s Election the first item on Boris Johnson’s to do list will undoubtedly be BREXIT but another issue which Boris’ government will be turning its attention to in 2020 will have to be Business Rates.

It is widely acknowledged that although the Business Rates system generates over £31billion of income, the way this is levied on businesses is seen as inequitable and the system as a whole is in need of reform.

During the Election Campaign, the Conservative Party promised that a review would be undertaken into the Business Rates system.  We have though, heard this before and previous reviews have been undertaken with little or no action taken to improve the system.

The greatest of changes to the system in recent years has in fact been a cut in the staff at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and also the implementation of a new appeals system known as Check Challenge Appeal (CCA) both of which have only served to add further confusion and delay.

Alastair Fearn, Director within FHP’s Business Rates Team commented:-

It will be interesting to see how the Conservative Party, who often label themselves as “The Friends Business” deal with the inequalities in the Business Rates system.

In my opinion the Government needs to head the advice of a recent Treasury Select Committee Report and to implement their recommendations which, in brief are as follows:-

The relief available should be simplified and Local Authorities given greater guidance on how to administer any reliefs.

  • A revision of the Transitional Relief system.
  • A revision of plant and machinery guidance.
  • The CCA process needs an overhaul.
  • Reduce the multiplier from 50 – 55p in the pound to a lower rate.

Perhaps the most telling part of the Select Committee report is:-

‘Business Rates needs to be fair to all ratepayers, and where unfairness is perceived, action needs to be taken to address the concerns.  At present, there is a significant level of distrust with the VOA’s valuation techniques in some business sectors’.

Surely an environment where businesses do not trust the body that is administering a tax shows that there is a fundamental problem.

We shall see what happens to resolve this…….

             

Alastair Fearn

Date:  17 December 2019

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