Business rates changes bring mixed fortunes for companies

A rush of significant dates and changes is adding to the turmoil with business rates.

We expect the moves to bring further frustration for some but they could deliver good news for business owners who push their claims.

One of the business rates headlines of 2018 was the decision to reverse the “staircase tax”, which means businesses will no longer be hit with separate assessments if they operate over several floors separated by communal space in the same premises.

The ruling allows for companies to claim business rates rebates dating back as far as 2010 and the government says appeals will be prioritised, but Adrian warned the onus is on business owners to pursue their claims.

However, the announcement of a second boost for business – the increase in business rates relief for “high street businesses” from April 2019 – has had a mixed reception.

There are concerns that the measure does nothing to help larger stores, which in many areas are key to attracting footfall, and the fact that the definition of high street location is down to local interpretation may produce some grey areas. But at least businesses won’t have to go through CCA to resolve any issues.

The ongoing issues with CCA – the check, challenge, appeal system introduced as part of the 2017 rates revaluation – have set alarm bells ringing, particularly with confirmation that the next revaluation will take place in 2021 and will be based on rents from April 2019.

“The move to revaluations being held every three years has been welcomed by many but there are worries about how the Valuation Office Agency will cope. They are still processing some appeals from 2010, never mind the growing backlog from 2017, they are under-resourced and the delays are hitting businesses in the pocket.