UK pubs and hospitality trade bodies call for business rates overhaul

·2-min read

The Government must overhaul its business rates tax system, but should avoid burdening them with extra paperwork and making it harder to appeal against decisions, according to two trade bodies.

UK Hospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) said it is important that revaluations of rates take place more frequently to avoid inaccurate bills.

The pair did not say how often they felt the revaluations should be, but the Government has already indicated it would look at changing them to every three years instead of five.

Businesses must not be asked for extra information as part of a business rates overhaul, the organisations said, and the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which oversees the process, must enhance its systems to make the process smoother, the organisations added.

UK Hospitality and the BII also said that businesses should not be charged for making challenges and there should not be a fixed time period for when challenges can be brought.

The calls come as part of the organisations’ response to a Government consultation, which closes today, on the tax.

Successive governments have said they would overhaul business rates but few initiatives have led to widespread changes and the tax on commercial properties remains one of the highest in the world.

One move had been to limit appeals and make it harder for businesses to make claims that valuations of their properties are wrong, leading to many claiming the system remains unfair.

In a joint statement, the trade bodies said: “The current business rates system has long been unfit for purpose and puts an unfair burden on pub and hospitality businesses.

“It’s extremely encouraging that the Government is proposing to increase the frequency of revaluations, something for which we have been calling for some time.

“However, the proposals are severely undermined by administrative burdens, limits on appeals and penalties.

“It’s vital that Government reforms match the severity of this issue.

“This proposal is helpful but does not redress the wide-ranging issues with the current system that will severely hamper the sector’s ability to recover from the pandemic if not addressed.

“We urge the Government to work closely with the sector to implement wide-ranging reform that will empower hospitality businesses, to rebuild and repair revenues, create jobs and be at the forefront of the economic recovery.”

A response to the consultation by the Government is expected in the autumn.

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