Ministers have announced their intention to delay the 2015 Rates Revaluation by two years to 2017, causing concern for forecourts who saw dramatic increases in their rates bill in 2010.
The Valuation Office Agency must, by law, revalue all non-domestic properties every five years to take account of movements in the market rental values of commercial properties. Ministers have introduced the change as part of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill introduced to Parliament on October 19.
In announcing the decision Communities Minister Brandon Lewis portrayed this as a positive move that will mean that no “local shops facing unexpected hikes in their business rates bill over the next five years”. He also stated that “as business rates are linked to inflation, there will be no real terms increase in rates over this period”.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This unexpected announcement and the claims of Ministers that it is a positive move for business should be treated with caution. We would like to see the detailed assessment that Ministers have made about the likely winners and losers from this delay.
“Our fear is that this change will mean that retailers who are currently saddled with valuations based on rental valuations from 2008 – the high point of the market before the economic downturn – will have to wait longer for an adjustment downwards in the rate valuation. This is particularly bad news for forecourt retailers who mostly saw dramatic increases in their rates bill in 2010.”
Lowman added that the ACS takes strong exception to the Minister characterising the 2012 increase in business rates of 5.6% and 2.6% in 2013 as no ‘real terms’ increase.
“The way rates have been increased every year is deeply damaging to business – retailers have consistently stressed the need for action to stop these unaffordable increases,” said Lowman. “This statement suggests Ministers are not listening.”