Be Prepared for New Duty to Notify

Preparing you for new ratepayer obligations as well savings opportunities

Duty to Notify changes are hotly anticipated this year that will be one of the greatest shakeups to the business rates for over 30 years.

The Valuation Office Agency are expected to introduce commencement regulations that will impose on a new obligation on ratepayers to notify the authorities of key events, such as new occupier, lease details changes and site changes as well as a new annual confirmation.

Schools and colleges will therefore have another significant area of compliance to contend with, however, the good news is that we can help clients prepare for these changes as well identify any savings opportunities across the new Rating List period (from 1st April 2023 to 31st March 2026).

To help you prepare for these new changes in compliance, together with more frequent Revaluations, having a trusted adviser on hand is more essential than ever and we have a helpful guide below to provide you with some outline details of these anticipated changes.

We have therefore split our service into the essential services and additional services summarised below.

The primary element of reviewing business rates assessments for clients remains the scope to save our clients’ money.  We will review a new assessment prior to proceeding, and once we have determined scope, we can proceed accordingly.

This will be split into 2 stages, as follows: –

Prepare – We will Prepare a ‘healthcheck’ for you to assist in understanding the makeup of your assessment(s).

This will help you understand any known under-assessments and we can provide any budget reports for you to assist with accruals.

Review – We will Review any assessment(s) in response to your particular circumstances following the ‘Healthcheck’.  Any Check and Challenge to the Valuation Office Agency will be pursued on your behalf together with reporting any settlements and reconciling savings on your behalf.

We will Maintain your assessment(s) going forward and assist you with any Duty to Notify obligations

Whilst the new Duty to Notify regulations are still awaited, you may need assistance for dealing with any under-assessed buildings and also the rates impact of proposed changes, for example, within  your School Masterplan that you might be working on as well.

Once the Duty to Notify obligations are live, we can support you across each and every aspect of the rates process.  These new services will help you satisfy the new compliance obligations yourself with support from us where needed, through to our firm completing these obligations on your behalf.

As you adapt and change your boarding provision to meet current pupils’ requirements, the accommodation needs might have changed on site, however, your corresponding configuration for Council Tax purposes may also need updating.

It’s rare for the arrangement of your Council Tax liabilities to be correct, however, we can work with you to understand if this in your favour or whether there are savings opportunities.

Savings can be backdated theoretically back to 1993 in some cases, but it’s essential to start with to understand your arrangement of properties on site compared to your history.  Please ask us if you wish to have a free consultation to discuss any assistance we can provide to you.

We are also mindful that many costs are rising across other essential cost areas, however, savings are possible via audits, efficiency improvements and market overviews.

We have therefore teamed up with consultant partners across water rates and energy reviews to also help you manage other costs areas.

Many organisations are less familiar with scope for savings in water rates, in part because deregulation occurred more recently.  However, savings are also possible via audits of overpayments and efficiency improvements.

We have partnered with a specialist in reviewing water rates who run a government approved, PCR2015 compliant framework for the supply of water & water services.

Switching supplier can significantly reduce your water spend and fix future costs for up to 9 years.

Our partner company can offer the following services: –

  • facilitate a switch of supplier with cost savings, where various approved suppliers will compete to offer you their best price
  • investigate your spend for the last 6 years, and where errors have been made, can secure rebates. These too can be significant, in the hundreds of thousands of pounds at larger trusts
  • help you to reduce your future spend through smart water management initiatives, and offer cost benefit analysis to help you decide how best to manage your water usage
  • handle all communication with your chosen supplier for the life of the contract, you never need to go through the hassle of dealing with them directly

In short, we are not simply here to help you switch, but to partner with you for the duration through creating a robust and sustainable bespoke smart water management strategy.

Once a tolerated nuisance, your energy bills are now a matter of intense interest because of the cost and because of what they say about your energy procurement strategy, consumption and buildings efficiency.

In today’s world of environmental awareness, reduced consumption goes hand in hand with reaching sustainability goals and cost reduction. Achieving this can be easier that you think and it’s worth getting your energy costs as well as the patterns of consumption reviewed.

We have partnered with a cost reduction and carbon management specialists to probe energy use and consumption across your whole estate. The exploratory piece will take little of your time, even less if you have access to supplier portals or heating oil invoices to hand.

  • Are the energy supplies for your estate fit for purpose?
  • What actions can you take to lower usage? Is the billing correct?
  • Do you know where all your meters are, including the defunct ones?
  • Are the tax rates applied correct in all cases?

You’ll be surprised how much management information can be brought together with this simple but technical piece of work – offered on a no-obligation basis. You may even get rebates from surprising sources, and not just for this year but the last six years.

We are excited to build on the strong relations we have developed over the last 30 years with our education clients and to welcome new clients to our firm moving forwards.

We are adapting our business rates services to cater for the future needs of the sector and look forward to providing additional services to help schools be more efficient and save money across these additional site cost areas.

Please reach out and get in contact with us via the online form below to discuss this further on a no obligation basis.

Our experience

Some of the reasons to consider ourselves are that we advise over 400 independent schools, we are regular attendees at the ISBA Conferences and have presented on this subject.

We were also the lead agent in the negotiations over a business rates agreement that is a major factor in the recent successes and we are also the lead agent for the current Rating List negotiations too.

We also use former senior Valuation Officers as part of our team which is invaluable in guiding appeals more smoothly through the process.  Unusually for our industry, we also have developed a vast expertise across Council Tax for educational establishments, recently saving a large boarding school a substantial six-figure sum.

Who we are

We are a friendly and approachable firm of Chartered Surveyors, having been established around 30 years ago, working tirelessly to save our clients’ money on their business rates and Council Tax. We are also enhancing our services to include water rates and energy cost reductions.

What we stand for

Our hallmark is dealing with each job as a bespoke project, starting with its own high-level partner triage, with a surveyor then being tasked with pursuing an appeal where appropriate.

In the background, our administrative team deals with securing any eligible reliefs and rebates – ensuring the clients always comes first.

How can we help?

Simply scan and email over a copy rates, water or energy bill and we can review your property portfolio on a ‘no obligation’ basis. We will conduct some initial research and let you know our thoughts on the scope to progress.