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Check, Challenge, Appeal – The Ratepayer’s Woes

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With the new 2017 Rating List many consider that the ratepayer now faces a far more complex and administratively burdensome appeal process in order to challenge their rate bills in England.

Historically contesting Rateable Values (RV) was a relatively straightforward process. However, this in itself created problems with a backlog of thousands of appeals, many of which lead to no change in RV. As such there has been a growing campaign for change by ratepayers, agents and the Valuation Office alike as the appeal process has been seen as unfit for purpose with significant delays in dealing with genuine cases.

In response, after years of consultation, the Government has introduced the new 2017 Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) process to contesting RVs in England. The Government claimed that “under the reforms it will be easier to navigate through the new process and engage earlier in the process with the VO. This means that cases should be resolved more efficiently and any alterations made more quickly”. Great news you may be thinking? Well let’s take a closer look.

Even before the CCA process can commence, ratepayers must first register on the Government Gateway which involves a nominated individual entering personal details from their passport or P60. Ratepayers then have to “claim” their properties and proving their interest by uploading a rates bill, lease or other documentary proof. Once this has been completed and the Valuation Office has accepted your claim, the ratepayer is able to appoint an agent by entering the agent code. This entire process is manual and has to be completed for each property – a significant and onerous task for any ratepayers with multiple properties.

Only once the agent has been appointed can they take over and commence the CCA process.

There are three stages to contesting your RV:

  • Check – all facts such as areas, building specification and tenure information held by the Valuation Office must to be confirmed. Any errors, even if it leads to an increase of rateable value, have to be disclosed. 
  • Challenge - the proposed RV and full disclosure of all evidence and legal arguments must be submitted upfront with very limited scope to add evidence at a later date. Consequently timing will be vital where the outcome of potential helpful rental evidence is delayed.
  • Appeal - the final stage managed by the Valuation Tribunal Service and for which fees now apply.

It is clear that one of the reasons behind the introduction of the new, seemingly cumbersome process is that the Valuation Office are lacking the resources to deal with the volume of RV contentions witnessed previously. However, it remains to be seen whether the new process will really ensure less speculative contesting of RVs and enable genuine cases to be resolved more swiftly than before with the whole CCA process potentially running for 3 years. This will be unwelcome news for ratepayers.

Although lobbying to change the new process continues, particularly the portal registration and the claiming of properties, it remains unclear whether the ratepayer’s concerns will be heard. What is apparent is that there are significant tests ahead for the ratepayer in contesting their 2017 RVs.

However, Cushman & Wakefield are well placed to provide you with professional rating advice on how to best deal with your 2017 rate liabilities. Our team of business rates experts will guide you through the new the CCA process from start to end, ensuring your RVs are always correct.

CLICK HERE to view our Summer 2017 Rating Newsletter.

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