BHA urges overhaul of ‘chaotic’ business rates

BHA urges overhaul of ‘chaotic’ business rates

The government is being urged to overhaul “chaotic” business rates by the British Hospitality Association.

The call came as it emerged that more than 250,000 appeals against the current 2010 rating list are still outstanding.

This means that authorities face an uphill task to clear the backlog
even before new rateable values come into force on April 1, according to one of the UK’s top specialists in the matter.

David Shuttleworth, vice president of Altus UK, the business rate specialist surveyors who are advising the BHA, said: “Our latest figure is that businesses are awaiting resolution of over 250,000 appeals from up to seven years ago and they have to pay the higher rate until their case is concluded.”

The backlog may well be swelled significantly due to the deadline for appeal against the 2010 rating assessments being March 31 this year, he added.

Shuttleworth confirmed that it is going to be more difficult and costly to appeal against the new 2017 rateable values because the government is introducing a new multi-stage appeal process.

“There are a lot of challenges and a considerable increase in the amount of bureaucracy,” he warned.

He confirmed that the average increase in rateable values on hotels for the 2017 revaluation is around 23% with some places a lot higher. Westminster in central London has seen a rise of 39% and Eastbourne 47%.

The situation was described as “already chaotic” by BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim, with thousands of members affected.

She called on the government to reform the whole business rate process.

Ibrahim said: “We have asked the Valuation Office, through Freedom of Information requests, for the exact number of hospitality and tourism businesses who have appealed and what remains outstanding.

“Whatever that number an already chaotic situation is about to get a whole lot worse. It is clear, even now, that through no fault of its own the Valuation Office is underfunded and thus over run and that, as a result, many businesses are already being put under severe pressure.”

She added: “With next month’s increases, and the lack of clarity concerning the new appeal process, thousands of small businesses are faced with huge increases and thus an uncertain future.

“In the first instance the chancellor should follow the lead of the Scottish government and limit any increase for hospitality businesses to 12.5% and in the second the UK government should look at their whole business rate plan again.

“Many of our members are small businesses already just about managing.

“They are the people that our prime minister says she supports. She should show that support now. And so should the chancellor in the Budget.”


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