Thousands of businesses go bust while awaiting business rates rebates

·2-min read
Shutters coming down at a shop (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Shutters coming down at a shop (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Thousands of business sites have foundered in while waiting for rebates over property taxes, according to new data.

Research by real estate advisory firm Altus Group has showed that 3,165 business premises, including offices, factories, shops, pubs and restaurants, entered insolvency whilst they were awaiting the result of a business rates challenge.

Business rates are the property tax levied on firms across the UK and have steadily increased despite property valuations tumbling in recent years.

Currently, firms have a three-stage process – check, challenge, appeal – for complaints about business rates payments, which was introduced in 2017.

The challenge process allows firms to make a formal dispute their property valuation which is used to calculate the bills that are paid to councils.

Around 60% of all challenges are ultimately agreed, according to industry experts.

The latest researched indicated that the 3,165 business premises which entered insolvency after challenges could have seen a cash injection of £50.76 million in rebates, with many dating back five years.

Rather than kicking the can down the road to be determined by overstretched tribunals, resources need to be deployed now

Robert Hayton, Altus Group

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs, is expected to resolve 90% of all challenges within 12 months.

However, they have failed to meet that target in every financial year since the introduction of the check, challenge, appeal policy.

During the 2020-21 financial year, around 43% of cases were resolved in line with the target.

Robert Hayton, UK president of Altus, said: “Firms emerged from a global pandemic to face a cost-of-doing-business crisis yet there is no urgency to help aid cash flow by resolving these challenges quickly.

“Rather than kicking the can down the road to be determined by overstretched tribunals, resources need to be deployed now by the VOA to clear the backlog whilst it is still manageable.”

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