The UK’s business rates system has long been a source of concern and frustration for many of the country’s small and large firms alike – and now, two key trade bodies have further spoken out in response to a recent Government consultation.
What did the trade organisations say?
The trade bodies in question – UK Hospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) – called for the more frequent revaluations of business rates to help ensure the accuracy of bills. They added that the Government should not burden businesses with additional paperwork or make the process of appealing against decisions more difficult.
The two organisations did not express a view on exactly how frequent such revaluations ought to be; however, the Government has already suggested it would consider changing the interval to every three years, rather than every five.
Other demands made by the two trade bodies included for the Government to avoid asking firms for any extra information as part of any overhaul to business rates, as well as for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) – which oversees the process – to improve its systems to enable a smoother process.
The BII and UK Hospitality also argued that businesses should not be hit with charges if they wish to challenge a decision, and that there should not be a fixed timeframe within which firms are permitted to bring such challenges.
“The current business rates system has long been unfit for purpose”
It is hardly new for a UK Government to suggest it might revamp business rates; in reality, there have been few significant changes to the system over the years, with the country’s tax on commercial properties remaining one of the world’s highest.
In a joint statement, the two trade bodies said: “The current business rates system has long been unfit for purpose and puts an unfair burden on pub and hospitality businesses.
“It’s extremely encouraging that the Government is proposing to increase the frequency of revaluations, something for which we have been calling for some time.
“However, the proposals are severely undermined by administrative burdens, limits on appeals and penalties.
“It is vital that Government reforms match the severity of this issue.”
The organisations encouraged the Government to “work closely with the sector to implement wide-ranging reform that will empower hospitality businesses, to rebuild and repair revenues, create jobs and be at the forefront of the economic recovery.”
The Government is expected to respond to the consultation in the autumn.
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