ACS chief executive James Lowman

ACS has responded to a Treasury consultation on business rates, welcoming the proposed move to more frequent revaluations and using the business rates system to better incentivise investment.

In its submission, ACS welcomes the planned move to three-yearly revaluations, as it would act as a better indication of how rateable values are tracking against the property market. Currently, business rates are reviewed every five years unless they’re delayed by Government.

ACS has also called on the Treasury to simplify the appeals process for business rates, which has been subject to significant delays and confusion since its introduction. As part of its recommendations on simplifying appeals, the submission calls for the ‘Check’ stage of the ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ process to be scrapped, speeding up the appeals process to free up funds that could otherwise be invested in business improvements.

The consultation proposes a number of new requirements on retailers to move toward more accurate rates bills, including:

  • a duty to notify the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) about property changes that affect business rates liabilities – for example, structural alterations, extensions or conversions. This would be done as changes are completed and via an Annual Confirmation Return; and
  • mandatory provision of rental and lease information – for example rent amounts and what it includes, agreed incentives, responsibilities and rent reviews.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We support the move to more frequent revaluations and streamlining the complex business rates appeals system. However, this must be coupled with proper resourcing of the VOA to accurately assess property taxes rather than leaving the vast majority of the administrative burden with businesses themselves.

“While welcome, more accurate rates and a better appeals system do not equate to proper reform of a system which still does not do enough to incentivise investment. We urge the Chancellor to continue looking at more ways to help businesses invest and drive economic recovery, starting with the long-awaited fundamental review of rates on which we expect to hear more in the Autumn.”