Rates too big an issue to ignore

Comment by Gillian McKenzie

AS trade issues go, business rates is right up there.
From the way in which they are calculated – with pubs’ rateable values based on turnover compared to square footage for other business sectors – to the fact current rateable values are based on figures from 2008 – when trading conditions were very different and the likes of the lower drink drive limit, auto-enrolment pensions and National Living Wage were not in place – the current system is unfair and a major burden on the trade.
Yet despite their magnitude, it seems there’s a lack of awareness about business rates.
According to the latest SLTA survey, 11% of respondents didn’t know the current rateable value of their premises, almost a quarter weren’t aware that new rateable values come into force next April, and half of respondents didn’t know that they can appeal that new rateable value.
The findings are worrying to say the least.
The reality is that business rates are changing – and soon.
Draft valuations are expected to be prepared next month, which businesses can challenge. New rateable values then take effect on April 1, 2017 and operators have until September 30 to lodge any appeals.
Of course most in the trade will be hoping for a reduced rates bill come April.
But it’s vital operators ensure they are fully aware of the changes – and the options they have to challenge those changes – as April’s revaluations will determine rates bills for at least the next five years.
It’s too important an issue for the trade to ignore.