Business rate valuation office already swamped with huge backlog, says the British Hospitality Association

Over 250,000 appeals against the current 2010 Rating List are still outstanding - so even before the new Rateable Values come into effect on April 1st, the authorities face an uphill task to clear the backlog, according to one of the UK’s top specialists in the matter.

David Shuttleworth, vice president of Altus UK, the business rate specialist surveyors who are advising the British Hospitality Association on the matter, said: “Our latest figure is that businesses are awaiting resolution of over 250,000 appeals from up to seven years ago and they have to pay the higher rate until their case is concluded.”

The backlog may well be swelled significantly due to the deadline for appeal against the 2010 rating assessments being March 31st this year, he added.

The situation is described as “already chaotic” by Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, the leading tourism body who have of thousands of members affected. She called on the Government to reform the whole business rate process.

Shuttleworth confirmed that it is going to be even more difficult to appeal against the new 2017 Rateable Values – and more costly ­- because the Government are introducing a new multi-stage appeal process. “There are a lot of challenges and a considerable increase in the amount of bureaucracy,”.

He confirmed that the average increase in Rateable Values on hotels for the 2017 revaluation is around 23 per cent with some places a lot higher. Westminster, central London, has seen a rise of 39 per cent which might be expected but in Eastbourne, on the south coast, it is 47per cent.

Ms Ibrahim of the BHA said: “We have asked the Valuation Office, through Freedom of Information requests, for the exact number of hospitality and tourism businesses who have appealed and what remains outstanding. Whatever that number an already chaotic situation is about to get a whole lot worse. It is clear, even now, that through no fault of its own the valuation office is underfunded and thus over run and that, as a result, many businesses are already being put under severe pressure.”

She continued: “With next month’s increases, and the lack of clarity concerning the new appeal process, thousands of small businesses are faced with huge increases and thus an uncertain future. In the first instance the Chancellor should follow the lead of the Scottish Government and limit any increase for hospitality businesses to 12.5 per cent and in the second the UK government should look at their whole business rate plan again. Many of our members are small businesses already just about managing. They are the people that our Prime Minister says she supports. She should show that support now. And so should the Chancellor in the Budget.”

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