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82,000 business rates appeals lodged over past two years, figures show

Lauretta Roberts
17 May 2019

More than 82,000 properties in England have lodged appeals against business rates since the controversial overhaul of the system, according to official figures.

The Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has revealed that 82,400 business properties in England – from shops and restaurants to public sector buildings – kicked off formal challenges since the rates review in April 2017, reaching the first stage in the new “check, challenge and appeal” process.

The figures are down -78% from the 371,150 seen in the same two-year period after the 2010 revaluation.

But 51,470 of the challenges have been successful up to 31 March – against the same period in 2010, when 34,790 appeals were agreed or deemed well founded.

It comes after the business rates revaluation in April 2017 – the first revaluation for seven years – which led to crippling rises in the tax across the UK, with retailers and pubs among those hardest hit.

Experts have said the extra burdens of the recently revamped appeals process have put many firms off challenging their bills, while problems with the online portal have added to woes.

Alex Probyn, president of UK expert services at real estate adviser Altus Group, said: “Despite some valid criticisms of the new appeal regulations, volume was always going to be down markedly from the same period under the last cycle with around a third of all properties now exempt from business rates and the deterrent for speculative appeals that now exists within the appeal process.

“The key issue for business is to get property valuations corrected as quickly as possible and whilst overall volume may be down, successful appeals are up, but it is critical that we work together to speed up the settlement process even further.”

Councils across England estimate business rates appeals will cost them £1.1bn this financial year.

But the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government confirmed they expect councils in England to land £25bn in business rates levies over 2019-20.

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