Business rate appeals surge by almost 700 per cent in Q1

Stuart Hicks, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop Heywood

By Stuart Hicks. Director.

The number of businesses appealing against business rates in the first quarter has surged, according to new Government figures.

Business rate appeals have soared by 690% between April and June this year, with many citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason behind a fall in their properties values.

Government statistics from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) shows that 144,910 shops, restaurants, pubs, offices, industrial and public sector buildings launched appeals in the three months to June 30.

It is almost the same as the three-year figure announced just three months ago. The new figure effectively doubles the total number of checks registered, up to 303,820, of which 69,480 are unresolved.

The latest quarterly figures represents a stark contrast against the same period last year when 18,340 checks were lodged – the first part of the current 3-step Check Challenge Appeal process.

Many properties owners are using the Material Change of Circumstance (MCC) reasoning to support their initial appeal, despite firms not having to pay business rates for the current financial year after the Chancellor halted the tax as part of his economic support package. Many claim MCC is relevant, either as a result of the impact of the initial lockdown or the subsequent impact to businesses after they reopened.

With the VOA unable to get on top of the previous level of CCAs that had been lodged pre Covid-19 it’s not hard to see the system being completely swamped under the current wave of appeals. Add to that the delay to the next revaluation of business rates in England until 2023 and the final EU exit, with or without a trade deal, and we seem to have a perfect storm that could overwhelm the current appeal system altogether.