Bedford firms could save millions via business rates appeals
Companies in Bedford could save up to £18.4 million through appealing against business rates.
That is according to business rates specialist CVS who say around 50 per cent of appeals lead to a reduction in rate bills.
Businesses are bracing themselves for the arrival of this year’s business rates bills, as they closely follow the ‘quarter day’ for the payment of their rent.
The pain of the 5.7 per cent rates rise in 2012 has been made worse by this year’s additional 2.6 per cent top up.
The Bank of England’s latest quarterly inflation report said inflation would most likely be above its two per cent target until early 2016.
As inflation dictates the RPI, which directly affects business rates, businesses can expect a rise in their rates bills year on year for the foreseeable future according to Don Baker, chairman of Rating at CVS, the business rates specialist.
He said: “We are also expecting the government to change the business rates revaluation date to 2017.
“A delayed revaluation and a year on year rates rise of at least two per cent will be an intolerable pressure on businesses.
“Businesses will have to continue managing increasing overheads including rates which are based on inflated 2008 rent levels in comparison to current rental levels in some areas and sectors. It is an issue that must be addressed with a rates freeze at the very least for the short term.
The combination of rent and rates bills following what, for many businesses has been a tough start to the year, threatens the viability of firms in the South East, according to CVS, especially SMEs and independent operators.
The Rateable Value used to calculate rates bills is assessed by the Government’s Agency, the Valuation Office (part of HMRC), using property market rental data available around the Antecedent Valuation Date – 1st April 2008.
Those in Bedford can appeal to reduce their assessment and therefore their rates bills but the appeal process is taking at least 12 to 18 months to produce a conclusion due to processes at the Valuation Office.
CVS have found that approximately 50 per cent of their appeals result in a reduction to the rates bill.
CVS figures show there is approximately a £1.8bn burden placed on UK businesses due to the backlog of 240,000 appeals stuck in the process.
In the meantime, CVS has saved businesses in Bedford over £623,000. A business rates appeal is currently the best available solution to establishing the accuracy of your rates outgoings even though the government needs to find a solution to the backlog of appeals. Despite this, there is still £18.4 million of potential savings available to businesses in Bedford.
Don Baker said: “The simple truth is that businesses are hurting. Any rise in business rates will drive more businesses to the wall. If we are serious about growing the economy then this constant pressure from rising outgoings on businesses must be addressed sooner rather than later.
“We are urging the Government to address the failings of the business rates system and to put itself squarely on the side of business.
A rate rise freeze would help but more fundamental is improving the rates payment and appeals process so that occupiers can recover the money owed to them via a transparent, fast and effective appeal system if they are being over-charged.”
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Weather for Bedford
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: North