Commercial surveying news from the Beattie Partnership

Concerns as appeals place pressure on VOA

The Evening Standard revealed that the government was unlikely to meet a July deadline for clearing 95% of Business Rates Appeals.  The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), who are handling the backlog, are now facing an even greater challenge, however, as businesses race to lodge their appeals before the 31st of March.

George Osborne has been under fire recently after promising to clear a long backlog of Business Rates Appeals by July.  While the backlog has been partially cleared, VOA figures show that only 69% of the total has been sorted, with some of the most complex and length cases still awaiting a decision.

“The problem they face” explains Paul Giness of the Beattie Partnership, a leading business rate specialist, “is that the VOA are seeing an increase in claims because of another deadline.”

The deadline in question is one of Osborne’s own making.  On the 1st of April, businesses lodging an appeal against their rates will lose the ability to backdate their appeal by 5 years.  As such, many businesses are rushing to get appeals into the VOA by March the 31st, while current rules still apply.

“If the VOA are trying to clear a backlog, an extra glut of work in February and March won’t help them,” continues Paul.  “It’s a lot of pressure to place on one department but businesses are right to be pushing forward with claims before the end of March, where recommended.”

The backlog at the VOA has been a source of consternation for many years, with resolutions to appeals often strung out over many months.  Osborne’s promise to clear the backlog was widely welcomed by business groups but the department has struggled to comply.

“In a way, the Chancellor has shot himself in the foot by introducing new rules for Business Rate Appeals this year.  A rush of new appeals was inevitable.”

 Article originally published on Bdaily Business News, 10th February 2015.