A proposed overhaul to the business rates appeals system could see independent retailers getting a head-start in the process.

In its recent response to the consultation on reforming business rates appeals, the Department for Communities and Local Government acknowledged the “widespread agreement that the current system is not working”.

The Government has listened to our concerns about delivering a more transparent rating system

James Lowman, ACS

“Too many appeals are held up for too long, creating costs and uncertainty for businesses and local authorities,” it said.

The department suggested a series of reforms, which are intended to “provide a system which is easier to navigate, particularly for small businesses”.

These included a new “Check, Challenge, Appeal” system, which divides the appeals process into three stages.

The streamlined process would allow small businesses to access a fast-track route through the system, as well as guidance and lower levels of appeal fees – which would be refunded if the appeal was successful.

During the consultation process, the ACS submitted a response that highlighted the necessity of introducing a more transparent and fast-moving appeals system. 

“We are pleased that the Government has listened to our concerns about delivering a more transparent rating system in order to resolve retailers’ rating appeals as early as possible,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.

“We welcome that Government has also dedicated resource to support the smallest businesses get fast-tracked through the rating system.”

The Government expects a reformed system to apply to the new rating list when it comes into effect in April 2017.