Insight

Mr Sunak, are you there?

Insight

It’s not often that the lack of something makes the news (unless it’s petrol or loo roll) but there are a couple of announcements that are increasingly conspicuous in their absence.

Firstly, the Fundamental Review of Business Rates, originally due last year is still yet to be released despite being promised in the Autumn but rumours have it that it will appear on 27 October. Of more pressing interest to ratepayers perhaps is the £1.5bn of additional relief that was announced when the government legislated against Covid being used as grounds for rateable value reductions. This was meant to provide much-needed relief for those businesses that didn’t benefit from either Expanded Retail Discount or Small Business Grants and the stated aim was to get the relief to people when they needed it, rather than having to rely on the slow and cumbersome appeals process to produce savings.

This sentiment is in danger of being lost as it’s now more than 18 months since the initial Covid relief packages were introduced – how much longer must businesses wait? We’ll report further in due course.

With all of this going on (or not going on) it’s easy to forget that the 2023 Revaluation, based on rental values at 1 April 2021, is now well underway.

The Valuation Office Agency is scrabbling around for rental evidence on which to base revised values, but there is a lack of transactions on certain property types in a market still afflicted by Covid. Whilst the VOA has had statutory powers to gather rental evidence for many years the problem has always been where to look for it – with 2.3m rating assessments, it’s a bit needle in a haystack.

Enter the ‘Non-Domestic Rating (Compilation and Alteration of Lists) (England) Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2021. This requires each billing authority to provide the Valuation Office Agency with details of who occupies each property on a quarterly basis. The aim is that this information will help the VOA compile and maintain accurate rating lists by allowing them to target where there have been new occupiers and therefore pinpoint the relevant rental evidence.

It is in effect the Government’s and VO’s answer to our PropData platform which collates information from the same council’s and aggregates it with rating list data. If you’re reading Mr Sunak, we’ll be happy to sell you a subscription!

It’s interesting to see that there are still seven local authorities that have failed to provide the Government with the requested information which mirrors our own experience. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at the evidence available to the VO across the region and explore the key issues that will impact on business rates liability over the next few years. Unless of course there are some other announcements to report on…

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