Jerry Schurder responds to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement that three-yearly business rates revaluations are to be brought forward to 2021, Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at property consultancy Gerald Eve, said:

“The recent collapse into administration of restaurants and retailers shows the huge pressures created by taxes based on historic data, and while in this context the bringing forward of three-yearly revaluations will be broadly welcomed, the changes don’t go nearly far enough. The speed with which property markets move means that even three-yearly revaluations expose many firms to rates payments out of kilter with business performance.

“These changes also come when firms are still grappling with a byzantine appeals system introduced last April that discourages challenges through penalties and red tape. Appeals have fallen by 99% as even those companies that are due bill reductions are disincentivised from lodging a challenge. For the Chancellor to eschew this opportunity to reform the appeals system for the better is little more than a dereliction of duty, and without radical improvements many businesses will not have achieved fair 2017 values by the time the 2021 revaluation arrives.

“The Valuation Office Agency which sets rates valuations needs to be adequately resourced rather than having its funding continually cut and, critically, needs to operate with transparency, justifying its assessments to taxpayers rather than putting the entire burden of proof onto ratepayers.

“The likely true motive behind the timing of the next revaluation is to decouple the potentially damaging rates change headlines from the expected date of the next election. We saw in 2015, when the revaluation planned for that year was delayed, how desperate the Government was to ensure these events didn’t coincide and this looks to be a similarly cynical act, albeit one which has some positive outcomes for business for a change.”