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Business Rates in the UK are levied on all non-domestic properties with the exception of farm outbuildings, fish farms, places of worship (including church halls) and premises used for the welfare or training of disabled people. They are based on the rental income that the property could generate were it to be rented out and as such more closely related to the property’s value than the profitability of the business within. The current system therefore penalises low margin businesses operating from premier city-center sites – such as major retailers.
The intention behind business rates is that the total annual sum raised (currently £28 bln) remains static in real terms, however movements in regional property values have the effect of shifting the tax burden from regions where values are declining to areas where values are appreciating. From 2013 onwards local government retained 50% of business rates but by 2020 it will keep 100%. Central government funding is being correspondingly reduced hence business rates will become one of the two major income source for local councils (the other is council tax).
Business rating periods usually span 5 years. The last rating period was due to run from 2010 – 2015 but was extended to 2017. In preparation for the 2017 – 2022 rating period the ratable value of every non-domestic property in the UK has been re-assessed. The results were finalised on October 1st and will be applied from April 2017 onwards.
The last assessment was in 2008 hence the new figures will reflect the shifts in property values since then. Prices in London and the South East have climbed massively, for example, retailers in Regent Street, London face a 87% increase (the North West will see an average 56% increase). Worst likely to be hit will be BT, who anticipate an average 450% increase across their portfolio.
Since 2010, 590,850 of the 1.8m non-domestic UK properties have appealed. Only one appeal per rating period is allowed. You may have made a 2010 – 2017 appeal, but now might be an opportune time to consider your position from 2017 onwards as any reduction will benefit for the next five years. It is also better to seek a lower rating from the start rather than overpay and fight to recover your money.
How we can help?
Here at Croucher Needham, we have formed a relationship with a rating specialist. Unlike their more aggressive competitors they do not employ sales staff, but have grown solely by recommendation. Their initial desk survey is fast, free and without obligation – it requires only a recent rates bill. Based on their assessment you may wish to instruct a formal appeal for 2017 – 2022. If successful, their fee is 25% of the saving in rates payable.
If you would like to take up this offer, please do not hesitate to contact Jennie Brown (Jennie.Brown@croucherneedham.com) or your usual Croucher Needham contact who will be happy to refer you to our ratings specialist.