Business rates refund failures

Retailers are losing out on an estimated £38m a year as the business rates system is failing to refund successful appeals.

Collier International’s head of business rates, John Webber, estimates that, on average, retailers receive approximately 5% of their annual rates bill back as a cash refund.

“The impact of the snarl-up in the government’s business rates appeals system is taking its toll,” he said. “The latest figures don’t give any promise that the situation is getting any better.”

Read more: Retail Express readers ready for rates refunds

The most recent statistics from the Valuation Tribunal (VT) revealed that the number of outstanding appeals against the list that began in 2017 has increased by 360% (April to June 2019).

The tribunal received 102 appeals against the 2017 list in the quarter and had 34 brought forward, but only managed to clear 13, leaving the number outstanding at the end of June 2019 at 123.

Webber said the lack of refunds will have “far-reaching consequences”, particularly for retail businesses that rely on refunds following appeal in their financial planning.

“Cash is the lifeblood of businesses. It is appalling that the government has not done more to correct the system,” he added.

Read more: Business rates ‘pressure’ causes 300,000 backlogged appeals