Nearly 150 business rates appeals a day lodged in 2018, figures show

Nearly 150 appeals were lodged against business rates a day last year after the controversial overhaul of the system, according to official figures.

The Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has revealed that 52,550 business properties in England – from shops and restaurants to public sector buildings – kicked off formal challenges during 2018, reaching the first stage in the new “check, challenge and appeal” process.

It comes after the business rates revaluation in April 2017, which led to crippling rises in the tax across the UK, with retailers and pubs among those hardest hit.

But the VOA figures also show a huge fall in the number of rates challenges being lodged since the revaluation came into effect – thought to be 81% lower than the same period after the 2010 revaluation.

Experts have said the extra burdens of the recently revamped appeals process have put many firms off challenging their bills, while problems with the online portal have added to woes.

The VOA data shows that a total of 56,240 appeals in England were resolved between April 2017 and December 31 2018, with 37,950 being successful.

Councils across England are expected to collect a whopping £25 billion in business rates this April for the 2019-20 tax year – up £206 million on the previous year.

They are putting by £1.1 billion to cover rates appeals for 2019-20.

Real estate adviser Altus Group, whose firm claims to handle around one in six of all rates appeals, said while the number of appeals has fallen sharply since the latest revaluation, they are seeing some improvements in the process.

Alex Probyn, president of UK Expert Services at Altus, said: “We increased our volume by 90% in the third quarter of 2018 and the VOA are now clearing more ‘checks’ than they receive, which has to be some positive news for business.”