Almost 90 per cent ‘dissatisfied’ with business rates appeals system

Almost 90 per cent of users are ‘dissatisfied’ with the UK’s existing system for appealing business rates decisions, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed.

According to reports, the Valuations Office Agency (VOA) – which is in charge of processing such appeals – has been forced to call in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for assistance amid spiralling numbers of complaints and queries.

The news comes after an FoI request revealed that almost three quarters (72 per cent) of previous users were ‘very dissatisfied’ with the appeals system.

Meanwhile, of the 847 users assessed – all of whom were quizzed at the very end of an appeal application – a further 17 per cent said that they were ‘dissatisfied’ with the appeals system.

John Webber, of real estate firm Colliers International, which issued the FoI request to the VOA, said that the statistics made it “obvious” that the majority of “businesses are confused and frustrated by the new system,” which first went live at the beginning of April this year.

He said that the existing system was “clearly restricting business owners’ rights to appeal” and added that the Government had “ignored the advice of rating experts” when it first introduced the “unworkable” system.

In response, a spokesperson from the VOA said: “The VOA’s check and challenge service is a new service that we are continuing to improve based on customer feedback.

“We are working closely with our customers and their representatives to understand and address any concerns, especially for businesses who own or occupy multiple properties.”

They added: “The new system allows businesses to resolve any issues at the right stage, reserving the appeal route for those that most need it, and saving them time and effort.”