The Government has this morning announced that the anticipated 2021 revaluation in England has been postponed.
We have spoken before about the tight timescale involved in passing the necessary legislation, and the issues created by basing bills from 2021 onwards on rental values in the pre-coronavirus world of April 2019. It is not surprising that the Government has had similar thoughts, and opted to postpone.
The default under existing legislation is for a revaluation in England in 2022, which is the current intention in Scotland. However, given there is normally a two-year gap between the antecedent valuation date (AVD) and new assessments coming into effect, this would mean basing bills on rental values as at 1st April 2020, at the height of the pandemic. This makes absolutely no sense, and we understand that the Government is considering whether to revalue in 2022 or some other date.
The Bill, which has now been dropped, also covered revaluations in Wales, and the Welsh finance minister has confirmed that the 2021 revaluation will also be deferred there.
We have been continuing to investigate mitigation opportunities for clients that operate outside of the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
As the effects of lockdown continue, we have reached a point where we believe there are sufficient grounds to pursue Material Change of Circumstances challenges. These will be longer-term in scope but offer the prospect of reduced liabilities, now even more important given 2017 list assessments will be used to calculate rates bills for at least one additional year following the revaluation postponement.
The first stage of this process requires a formal “check” to be made, which itself involves each property being claimed via a ratepayer-specific account. We can help you set this up if you have not already done so.
Our campaign for direct support for those firms outside the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors continues, with the FT reporting today on a letter sent to the Chancellor on behalf of more than 50 commercial property groups, seeking the extension of the business rates holiday to all firms. The article quotes our head of business rates, Jerry Schurder, and mirrors the calls we first made in March.
While the Government has not yet responded positively to these calls, they have acted on some other matters with links to business rates. Firstly, there is a new top-up to the local business grants fund scheme, and confirmation that a discretionary fund has been set up to help small businesses previously outside the scope of the scheme. These include businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates.
In addition, a £6.1 million fund has been provided to helping Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) during the pandemic. The intention is that the fund should cover funding for three months and contribute to BIDs’ operational costs.
These remain challenging times, and while some of you will benefit from the postponement of the revaluation, for others it will create yet another issue to be addressed. Either way, our team is here to help you find your way through the months and years ahead, and is working non-stop to achieve the reductions in liabilities – through appeals, reliefs and policy changes – that are more vital now than ever.