Businesses could face another two years wait for conclusion to appeals

A Freedom of Information request by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and business rates specialist Altus has discovered there are 20,490 hospitality businesses still waiting for the outcome of their appeals against business rate rises seven years ago.

The revelation about the vast backlog comes amid a fresh round of appeals as a consequence of an increase in rates earlier this year after a revaluation of commercial properties.

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA said: “We now know the full extent of the rates crisis facing the hospitality industry. This is further compounded by the lack of clarity concerning the new appeals process for this year’s increases. Through no fault of its own the Valuation Office is underfunded and thus over run.  The government needs to act now for our members and the wider hospitality community.”

Business rate expert David Shuttleworth, vice-president of Altus UK said:  “We are acutely aware that this is a particularly challenging climate for many operators to stay profitable, and we have sympathy with the frustrations that many businesses in the hospitality sector face when addressing their rates rises.

Shuttleworth says businesses could be waiting until 2019 for a conclusion. “The recently published Valuation Office Business Plan commits the agency to settling all 2010 Rating List appeals by 31st March 2019 so businesses may have nearly 2 more years for their retrospective appeals to be concluded. This at the same time that increases in rates as a consequence of the 2017 Rating Revaluation are impacting on SMEs in particular.”

Rateable Values

The average increase in Rateable Values on hotels for the 2017 revaluation is around 23 per cent with some businesses facing rises a lot higher. Westminster, London, has seen average rises of 39 per cent and in Eastbourne the figure is 45 per cent.  Restaurants and pubs face massive increases too, notwithstanding the £1,000 a year rebate given to the pubs which works out at just £20 a week.

The BHA says business rates will be a key issue at their annual hospitality and tourism day in parliament on October 10. The event was attended by over 150 business owners and 65 MPs last year.

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