The Government has just announced that the usual five-yearly revaluation of all commercial properties in England will be postponed from 2015 to 2017.  This has come as an unwelcome surprise for businesses, as it will not allow an adjustment to rateable values to reflect the current adverse market conditions.

Current assessments (in the 2010 rating list) are based on rental values as at April 2008, when the market had not experienced the full effect of the downturn.  If the 2015 revaluation had gone ahead as previously planned there would have been an adjustment in rateable values based on the market as at April 2013.  There is no evidence in the various forecasts that property values will have started to recover by April 2013, so the two-year postponement of the revaluation will lead to the continuation of artificially-high rateable values until April 2017.

It is expected that the legislatures in Wales and Scotland will take a similar step, but for the moment this postponement applies only to England.

This development highlights the need for all businesses to review their current rates liability and ensure they are taking advantage of all available reliefs.  By way of example, make use of the three or six month exemption period - please click here to access our recent e-bulletin on the Makro case.  It is also essential to amalgamate assessments where this will reduce the overall rateable value - please click here to access our recent e-bulletin on the Tower Bridge case.