Outstanding business rates challenges increase by 35%

The number of businesses waiting for challenges over soaring business rates to be resolved has jumped by more than a third in just three months, according to new figures issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The figures revealed the number of outstanding challenges has increased by 35% fuelling concerns from experts over the rates appeal system.

The rise in unresolved business rates challenges has been reported by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned that retailers were being short-changed by more than £1bn amid falling in rates appeal system.

Commenting on the report, CEO of BRC, Helen Dickinson, said that some businesses could be owed over £1bn over the five years to 2022 through the appeals system.

She added: “This is money that could be spent investing in our high streets, saving jobs and keeping stores open for business. To address this, the next government must prioritise fixing the Valuation Office Agency’s appeals system, as was recently recommended by the recent Treasury Select Committee.”

Alex Probyn, president of Altus Group, said: “This is still salvageable, but more resources must be found now, and the next government must look to change the law to reduce the maximum response from 18 months to six months so that meritorious cases are resolved quickly.

“More checks are now being resolved than received which, in isolation, is positive, but my real and continued concern is the unnecessary delays that are being created by the increasing bottleneck at the Challenge stage.”

John McDonnell, shadow chancellor said the Labour party would ensure “a fair and transparent appeal process”, commenting that case after case appeals have “gone on far too long”.

Labour also added it will launch a review into business rates which could see extra taxes placed on property landlords. Meanwhile, The Conservative Party also said it would launch another review into rates and look to extend the retail discount on business rates to 50% next year in England.

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