Colliers: New rates bill won’t solve business rates woes

6th April 2023 |

The new Non-Domestic Rates Bill laid before Parliament won’t do enough to solve business rates questions for the retail and hospitality sectors, Colliers’ head of business rates has said.

John Webber said that the proposed changes look positive “on the surface”, but Colliers has large concerns about the burdens put on rates payers.

The bill, which came about following the 2020 Business Rates Review, says there will be the delivery of:

  • More frequent revaluations
  • Administrative reforms to deliver a sustainable shorter revaluation cycle, to enable more accurate rating lists and enable the disclosure of more information
  • Measures to support decarbonisation and investment
  • Support announced by the Government in 2022’s Autumn Statement, including a three-year transitional relief scheme.
  • The Digitalising Business Rates project, which aims to modernise the business rates system
  • Improvements to the administration of business rates

Colliers says that despite being long-time advocates of some of the proposed changes, new requirements for the annual provision of information will be a “headache” for rates payers.

“Obligations are now being put on the ratepayer”, says Webber.

He has voiced concerns that the increasing burden will put smaller businesses further into the hands of “rogue” rating advisers.

He continues: “Unless the government does something about the issue of rogue surveyors, these new demands will give a green light to cowboy rating advisers taking advantage of businesses now even more unsure of how to negotiate the complex business rates system.”

Webber argues that not enough is being done to tackle the main issue surrounding business rates – that it is “overburdensome and just too high a tax to be sustainable”.

He added: “Far from cutting business rates, as promised in the Conservative manifesto, this year’s list will show a general 7.1% increase in rateable value. Even on the government’s figures, the retail sector alone will still be providing £6.7 billion in business rates in 2023/4 which is nearly a quarter of the overall business rates tax take, despite the fact that the gross value-added from retail to the economy is less than 10%.

“Unless the Government reduces the Multiplier to levels businesses can afford – say 34 pence in the pound – none of the above changes will make a significant improvement for businesses in these sectors.”

Webber says Colliers will continue its lobbying campaign among MPs at the bill makes its way through Parliament. The bill is expected to receive a second reading on 24 April.


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