EXCLUSIVE: Only 3 business rates cases have gained an appeal since April

Business rates appeals are yet to be heard under the new Check, Challenge, Appeal system.

Business rates appeals are yet to be heard under the new Check, Challenge, Appeal system in England, with the first three cases only just reaching the ‘appeal’ stage this month.

Valuation Tribunal Service CEO Antonio Masella told Retail Express that just three rates appeals had reached the ‘Appeal’ stage, eight months after the Valuation Office Agency introduced the system.

Under the new system, businesses must submit a check, wait for a response from the VOA, challenge the VOA's response, wait for a response from the CMA, and then finally move the case to the appeals stage where a tribunal hearing will be set.

The latest statistics from the Valuation Office Agency responsible for the new appeals system show a 95% drop in the number of appeals registered compared to the same period in 2010, when rates were previously re-evaluated.

The drop comes despite councils expecting £4.5billion in rates rebates through appeals, as revealed by a freedom of information request filed by the UK’s largest rates appeals agency – Altus Group.

Alex Probyn, president of Altus Group said there were “genuine concerns” over the system but expects the number of appeals registered to “rise dramatically” in the New Year.

Asked why it has taken so long to progress cases, a VOA spokesperson said: “Check and Challenge is about getting issues resolved effectively at the right level without the automatic need for an appeal.”

The VOA also said delays were due to businesses being sluggish in progressing their own cases to the next stage.

The comments from the VOA were criticised by Collier’s International’s head of ratings John Webber who told Retail Express: “So few checks and challenges and consequently appeals have been submitted not because things are being agreed amicably, but because the system does not work.”

One of the first cases to reach the final stage is Justin Whittaker’s MJ's Premier in Oldham. He said: “One manager told me that they normally look at it within four weeks, but due to backlogs there are long periods where there is no officer assigned to the case.”

Whittaker attributed the success of getting his case through to being “a pain in their backside” by chasing, questioning and demanding action from the VOA very frequently.

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