The business rates system is “unfair, punitive and unworkable” and should be a priority for reform in the upcoming Budget, estate agency and property consultancy Colliers International has said.
Colliers also warned that a rumoured move towards self-assessment of business rates could become another bureaucratic burden on businesses.
John Webber, head of business rating at Colliers, said, “The official line is that the government is looking at all the options. However, sources have confirmed that the big four accountancy firms have been consulted on how to make self-assessment work and what lessons could be learned from personal taxation.
“I understand the government favours self-assessment not only as a way of delivering more frequent revaluations, but also as a quick-fire method of cutting costs at the VOA [Valuation Office Agency], which is sitting on a backlog of over 200,000 business rates appeals.”
Colliers has instead called for a move to more frequent valuations, for increased funding for the VOA to help deal with a backlog of appeals, and for a register of professional rating advisors.
Business rates emerged as a top Budget priority for large and independent retailers earlier this week, as chief executives including Fat Face’s Anthony Thompson called for the system to be properly reviewed.