Yesterday (5 August) BRC members met with Treasury and Valuation Office Agency (VOA) officials to discuss the current business rates revaluation consultation.

The Government is consulting on:

  • Reducing the gap between revaluations from five years to three
  • Requiring ratepayers to notify the VOA of lease details and to update this annually
  • Reducing the scope to appeal but increasing the VOA's transparency
  • Introducing fees for appealing (refundable if successful) and for seeing the basis of the VOA's valuations 

Ten retailers were represented at the roundtable, giving an excellent opportunity for members to respond directly to Treasury officials on the Government's proposals.

Treasury was clear that the current consultation was only one aspect of the reform emanating from the Fundamental Review, and that more changes would be announced in the Autumn.

Members expressed concern about the adverse impact of restricting appeal timings, the cost burden of fees for making appeals, the need to resolve transitional relief, and the need to reduce the overall burden of rates. They also emphasised the need for any IT system set up to support the Duty to Notify to be fit for purpose and user-friendly. Treasury officials accepted this point, and also indicated that they were working to make the whole system of rates better aligned with 'Making Tax Digital' objectives - in others words more efficient for ratepayers to interact with.

The roundtable was a very useful chance to press home BRC and member priorities. It is part of the BRC's response to the consultation, which members can input into until 23 August.