Business rates appeal system requires “urgent reform”, says FSB

The number of bricks and mortar businesses challenging their business rates bills has dropped by 78 per cent, the latest figures have shown.

The finding forms part of the Valuation Office Agency’s latest report into the ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ scheme, which allows a business to lodge an appeal with the independent Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) to have its business rates reviewed.

According to the statistics, just 82,400 properties in England lodged an appeal against the authority since the most recent business rates revaluation in 2017. This represents a 78 per cent drop from the 371,250 appeals lodged after the last revaluation in 2010.

Commenting on the figures, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the alarmingly low number of businesses appealing rates signals that the system needs to be “urgently reformed”.

“Rolled out at the same time as 2017’s revaluation, the current CCA system forces time-pressed small firms, already having to deal with unfair revaluations, to try and navigate the complicated platform,” said FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry.

“Many simply don’t have the time or money to bring together a case using the overly complicated system, risking financial penalties if they challenge them.”

Mr Cherry added that this means that small businesses are “walking away from the system” and potentially paying the wrong business rates bill.

“The system needs to make sure businesses understand what they are being charged for so they can make a sensible judgement about whether to appeal or not.

“It must make sure smaller businesses know how their rates bills are calculated without having to lodge a formal complaint. There must also be a reduced evidence burden placed on them at the initial stages if they appeal their bills.”

The report follows recent research, published by the CBI, revealing that the “burdensome outdated business rates regime” has pushed investment intentions to a record low.