The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), the government body responsible for setting business rates in England, is dilatory in dealing with appeals made under the controversial new Check Challenge Appeal (CCA) system, national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) has claimed.
Philip Clarkson, Director of Business Rates at LSH, said he has sent several emails to the VOA in respect of a Check case requesting a building be deleted from the rating list due to it being rendered unoccupiable following a fire.
However, the VOA failed to respond until it was reminded of the request made almost six months later.
Separately, Philip said he and his clients have also uncovered severe flaws in the system, with simple tasks such as reallocating administrator responsibilities or claiming properties proving taxing for clients.
The comments come just weeks after a freedom of information request to the VOA revealed that almost 90 percent of users are dissatisfied with the new system, with experts branding it ‘shambolic’.
Philip said: “The Government can’t continue to bury its head in the sand when it can so easily be demonstrated that the CCA system is not fit for purpose.”
Business rates are a tax on the right to occupy commercial property which nets the Government approximately £29bn per year. The new three-stage CCA system was introduced in April 2017 alongside the latest revaluation with the intention of reducing the number of speculative appeals the VOA receives in respect of individual rating assessments.
Figures released by the VOA in March 2018 revealed that the number of rating assessments challenged between 01 April to 31 March fell from 234,230 in 2010, to just 7,480 in 2018; a staggering drop of more than 96 per cent.
However, Philip is quick to point out that the reduction is reflective of the cumbersome and unintelligible nature of the new system, with ratepayers simply conceding defeat.
He added: “If the Government’s intention is to reduce the number of rating appeals by making the system as laborious as possible, then it has succeeded.
“It is interesting to note that the new CCA system does not apply in Wales where the Government has recognised the problems with it and are unlikely to change their appeal system in the immediate future.”