Local authorities becoming stricter in interpreting rules for Small Business Rate Relief

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Local Authorities are becoming stricter in the way that they apply the rules for rate reliefs, particularly Small Business Relief and Empty Property Rate Relief.  With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government-imposed restrictions in March 2020, the government suspended Business Rates for shops and cafes and it also introduced grants for small businesses based upon rateable values.  This encouraged a significant number of claims for grant aid from occupiers, with a degree of suspected fraud. 

Now that the government and Local Authorities are looking to re-build their finances, not only are they putting a great deal of effort into investigating these potential frauds, but they are also questioning to a far greater degree applications for reliefs.  They are now looking for significantly more information from applicants than they might have done previously.  If applying for a relief be sure to anticipate that the Local Authority will require evidence of your occupation and your company status.

2023 Rating Revaluation – Relief for Shops

The Valuation Office Agency is gearing up for the revaluation of all commercial properties for the 2023 Rating List.  The new rating assessments, upon which rates payments will be based, will themselves be based on 2021 rental values.  Many occupiers will have recently received requests from the Valuation Office Agency to provide rental information.  The Valuation Office Agency will continue to ask occupiers for up-to-date rental information until the List is drawn up. 

The retail sector in particular will be hoping that the revaluation reflects the changes that have occurred around town centres over the last few years.  There have been relative falls in value of shop properties, and in some town centres these falls have been significant.  At the present time rating assessments are based upon 2015 levels of value when shop rents were significantly stronger.  High rating assessments are being blamed in some quarters for shop vacancies, and they are certainly a contributing factor.