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Check, Challenge, Appeal

What you need to know

An evolving approach.

The system for challenging business rates in England and Wales is called Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA). The CCA system allows a ratepayer to ‘check’ the factual information that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has used to assess their Rateable Value (RV) and ‘Challenge’ where they believe that the RV is wrong and that they have evidence to support their case.


CCA was intended to be faster, simpler, and more transparent than the previous system. However, many question whether the changes which took effect from April 2017 in England and April 2023 in Wales have achieved these aims.

The CCA process

The CCA system is divided into three stages, each with its own set of complicated requirements.


Before a ratepayer or building owner can start the process, they must first register on the bespoke business rates Gov UK Gateway and formally ‘claim’ their property by uploading evidence in the form of a rate bill, lease or land registry documentation.


Once registered and claimed, the first phase, known as  ‘Check,’ allows occupiers or owners to confirm the accuracy of the property information held by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). For most properties, the system includes a basic breakdown of the valuation used to arrive at the Rateable Value, as well as an opportunity to compare with similar properties in the area.


Once a ‘Check’ has been submitted the VOA will issue a decision which will either reflect any factual changes, if agreed, or state that there has been no change to the Rateable Value as a result.


If there is a discrepancy, the occupier or owner can move on to the ‘Challenge’ phase which requires the submission of a proposed revised Rateable Value and reliable evidence in support. The appellant must make a strong case for why the Rateable Value is incorrect. After considering the challenge, the VOA can either agree, propose an alternative figure or dismiss the challenge entirely.


Once a ‘Challenge’ decision has been issued, the appellant can progress to the ‘Appeal’ stage. A ratepayer or building owner unhappy with the previous conclusion can present the issue to a Valuation Tribunal (an impartial panel) for a final decision.


Each stage necessitates a level of experience and understanding that may be intimidating to some, jeopardising the goal of streamlining the appeal process.


Complexity – from the first step and throughout

To start, CCA requires ratepayers to first claim and register the property. This initial hurdle has proven time-consuming and complex for many, potentially inhibiting the process’s accessibility.


Ratepayers need to be aware that Rateable Values can go up, as well as down, and therefore it can be risky to take action without first taking professional advice. An error at any of the stages can lead to the ability to challenge further being restricted, posing significant risks.


As a result of the difficulties, it has become more important for businesses to rely on experienced advisors to guide them through the rigorous CCA procedure and secure a successful challenge.


Although the CCA system is meant to be a tool for businesses to easily correct anomalies, the complexity and demands don’t fully align with its original intention of simplicity and transparency. In its current form, the CCA system can be a double-edged sword, requiring careful navigation and expert knowledge to achieve a beneficial outcome.


For further guidance and support with your CCA, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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