West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce recently asked members for their views about the Government’s planned reforms of business rates. (We are grateful for their input – it is very much valued and appreciated.) Below is a summary of the main points made by respondents, some of whom expect to benefit, while others fear a negative effect.
- Many businesses in the Leeds City Region (LCR) have not seen an increase in their business rates and, depending on their location, may see a reduction
- Concern was expressed about the potential negative impact of any increases on high street retailers, especially when there is a major shift towards online shopping with associated warehouses located out of city/town centres with lower business rates
- The increase in the relief threshold for SMEs is welcome but some said it should be even higher
- There is concern that the increase in business rates (no matter how small) is yet another cost burden and comes quickly after the introduction of new pension arrangements and also increases in minimum wage levels
- Concerns over the complex nature and lack of clarity in the ratings process
- There is a general lack of understanding/awareness about how the rateable value is determined, where the collected money goes, and how it spent
- The reforms now mean that it could be more than two years before a ratings appeal goes before a tribunal, during which time the business has to pay the higher rate
- A fee has been introduced for taking an appeal to tribunal and although small could be a barrier to SMEs
- A number of respondents called for the whole system to be reviewed
- Rates in London and the South-East seem likely to increase the most.
Further information and advice about business rates from the Valuation Office Agency can be found at www.gov.uk/valuation-offices-business-rates