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Black Country Chamber Calls for Reconsideration of Business Rate Appeal Proposals

Corin CraneThe government have this week announced controversial changes to the business rate appeal process, which could block many companies from appealing against unfair or incorrect business rate valuations. These proposed changes, which will be voted upon in Parliament in April, mark the first re-evaluation of business rates in seven years.

Under current law all appeals must be considered, but the newly proposed reforms would mean only ratepayers who claim that their rate is wildly inaccurate would have it rectified, and if the disputed amount falls within a ‘margin of error’ the appeal could be rejected. Furthermore, experts believe that this ‘margin of error’ could be as high as 15%. This could lead to 500,000 businesses across the country facing an increase of up to 300% on the rates that they are currently paying.

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, commented: “The local business community understands that the rateable value is subject to change, and it’s distributive system works so that there will always be winners and losers. However, in deprived areas retailers are often the ones that drive regeneration, but the margin for these businesses is minimal, so any major increases will have a crippling impact.

“The big issue for businesses is centred on the process of appeal. The government is changing this process on the same day as putting rates up. In addition, the valuation office has a backlog of 280,000 cases, so there will be chaos once this comes into force. On top of this, there has been a 20% cut in funds to the valuation office, therein bringing into question how they will cope with the strenuous backlog, which will take an estimated 5 years to clear.

“As a Chamber, we are emphatically calling for the changes not to be made now, as this could lead to a political battle at a time when businesses need stability, not uncertainty.”

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business throughout the region. For more information, please contact the Black Country Chamber on 0330 024 0820 or visit www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk.

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