Fylde firms called to arms over rates system

Beverley McDougall

Beverley McDougall

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The Government’s plans to change the business rates system has come under double attack.

North West based property consultant Lambert Smith Hampton is calling on businesses to pressure on the Government to fund the business rates system properly and scrap the introduction of a new system which will make it much harder to challenge bills.

While the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is urging firms to check the newly proposed business rates saying the new three stage process is over complex and unfair.

Beverley McDougall, (pictured) from the North West business rates team at Lambert Smith Hampton, is leading a campaign for businesses to voice their opinions about a new system that is designed to reduce the number of businesses launching appeals by making it harder and more expensive to do so.

She said: “The new system ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ is designed for one purpose, to cut the amount that the Government is spending on the Valuation Office Agency. It is a draconian austerity measure.

“The government is saying these new regulations will make it an easier and quicker process to challenge business rates, but having read the draft regulations that have just been published for consultation, this is blatantly not the case.

“The new system will make it much harder for ratepayers in the stages leading up to making a formal appeal to Valuation Tribunal. They will have to supply full information and evidence to support their case with limited information being provided by the VOA on how they have arrived at the rateable value originally.

She added that a “margin of error” clause of 10 per cent meant that businesses could end up overpaying thousands of pounds a year.

Geoff White, RICS policy manager said: “If it is the Government’s intention is to dissuade ratepayers from investigating, understanding and challenging their assessments, then these measures may have success but surely where an explanation and justification of an assessed tax is sought, brevity and transparency should be the aspiration.”