Almost 150 appeals a day were lodged against business rates last year after the overhaul of the system, according to official figures.
The government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has revealed that 52,550 business properties in England – of which a large proportion are retailers – started formal challenges during 2018, reaching the first stage in the new “check, challenge and appeal” process.
It follows the business rates revaluation in April 2017, which led to rises in the tax across the UK, especially for retailers.
However, the VOA figures show a dramatic plunge in the number of rates challenges being lodged since the revaluation came into effect – thought to be 81% lower than the same period after the 2010 revaluation.
Experts have said the extra burdens of the recently-revamped appeals process have put many firms off challenging their bills, while problems with the online portal have added to woes.
Altus Group, which claims to handle around one in six of all business rates appeals, said while the number of appeals has fallen sharply since the latest revaluation, they are seeing some improvements in the process.
“Despite some valid criticisms of the new appeal regulations, the system works if you get stuck in and we continue to engage with the VOA on ways to help improve it,” Altus Group UK expert services president Alex Probyn said. “We increased our volume by 90% in the third quarter of 2018 and the VOA are now clearing more ‘checks’ than they receive which has to be some positive news for business.”
The VOA data shows that a total of 56,240 appeals in England were resolved between April 2017 and December 31 2018, with 37,950 being successful.
Councils across England are expected to rake in £25 billion in business rates this April for the 2019-20 tax year – an increase of £206 million on the previous year. They are putting by £1.1 billion to cover rates appeals for 2019-20.