Business rate hike could hit meat traders

Meat companies face being swept up in a wider storm of substantial business rate increases, according to an expert at a major UK law firm. 

With the 2017 business rate revaluation looming, rateable values seem likely to increase substantially throughout the country. Rates for firms in London are potentially set to double in some cases.

According to Richard New, real estate litigation partner at Eversheds LLP, ratepayers pay roughly half of what the Valuation Office reckons to be the market rental value for each commercial property they occupy. That’s regardless of whether or not they own the freehold or the leasehold of those properties.

The last rating list was based on 2008 rental values and the impending revaluation comes into effect on 1 April 2017, with rental values being assessed as at April 2015.

New said the 2008-2015 period was especially volatile for the property market. “However,” he added, “many cities were over the worst of the downturn and had started to accelerate by 2015, so are gearing up for sizeable increases in their rateable values.

“Certain areas of London are expected to increase by nearly 100%, which, even with transitional relief, will put a severe dent in the finances of every corporate occupier.”

The Valuation Office recently published the new rateable values in draft and is currently inviting representations from ratepayers as to any factual or other substantial errors.

New advised ratepayers to instruct their rating surveyors to see whether there was any scope for challenge. “When the list goes live on 1 April 2017, ratepayers will be able to appeal their assessments formally, but a new system is coming into effect which will influence which battles ratepayers wish to pick.”

He said the Valuation Office was hoping that the introduction of the Check Challenge Appeal process would reduce the number of frivolous claims and lead to more challenges being settled in the early stages, with fewer appeals being heard before the Valuation Tribunal.

The final details of Check Challenge Appeal places greater emphasis on the ratepayer ensuring that the appeal is well-founded. “Ratepayers will need to ‘frontload’ more than they currently do for the appeal process, both in terms of assessing opportunities and accumulating evidence,” said New.

He warned that except for physical changes to the property or its locality, the ratepayer would only get one chance to challenge a valuation.

Under the first step of the new regime, Check, parties can agree factual evidence regarding the property concerned. “The ratepayer will be responsible for the accurate presentation of information regarding the property and the Valuation Office will reassess whether an amendment is merited,” said New. He warned though, if ratepayers present false information, they might find themselves fined.

Challenge follows if Check leads to no amendment. New said here ratepayers should expect to state the detailed grounds for the alteration and provide evidence in support.

With, Appeal, it is likely that limited evidence can be brought in front of the Tribunal except for that disclosed during the Challenge phase. A fee will also be payable to take the appeal to a hearing.

If ratepayers fail to submit evidence by certain deadlines then their appeals will be terminated instantly.

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