Businesses remain “totally let down by CCA”, the new Business Rates Appeals System, according to Colliers International, which says the new system is not working.
In answer to FOI Requests made by Colliers International concerning “Find My Business Rates” and the “Check Challenge Appeal” system, the VOA revealed that 88% of the 2,085 respondents in the period April 1st 2017 to 19 March 2018 said they were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the new system and only 2.7% were very satisfied.
Any claim by the government that early teething problems have been ironed out is “delusional”, claims Colliers.
CCA came into force on 1st April 2017 which means multiple properties held in a portfolio must each be claimed separately and the identity of the ratepayer must be proven with supporting documentation, which some believe make the process cumbersome.
Nearly 600 different respondents elaborated on their concerns about the system, complaining about a lack of simplicity and clarity, calling for information on previous valuations, the search system to work properly, greater speed and the need for guidance notes about how the whole process worked.
One complainant said: “It needs to be much easier to contact you” and another: “The need for a Freephone number for help”.
Users appear frustrated that there is no one that can guide them through the system, no one to explain their issues to and no opportunity to put forward their reason for challenging their business rates assessment.
CCA was introduced on the day the largest changes to business rates in a generation were published in April 2017. This included rate increases across London and the South East alongside a downside transitional scheme for the rest of the UK that offered little respite to rate payers in the depressed areas.
The ability to appeal against the new rateable values seems now to have become an issue with latest figures revealed in February showing that only around 12,000 properties have begun to be check and challenge their rating assessments and only one has reached appeals stage.
According to John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers International, given that there are in the region of 1.8 million rateable hereditaments, these figures imply 99.7% of businesses are happy with their rating assessments, which he says is “laughable.”
Webber continued: “Reading through the responses it is obvious that businesses are confused and frustrated by this new system, which is clearly restricting business owners’ rights to appeal.
“The government ignored the advice of rating experts when it introduced Check Challenge Appeal which we said was unworkable at the time, and despite our criticisms, rolled on ahead regardless.”