Business rates are currently a hot topic and with good reason. With the April 2017 Revaluation affecting all properties across the UK, Diversified Industrials have not been as badly affected as some sectors, but certain areas of the UK and certain classes within the sector have been hit with double digit increases. Industrials, with a heavy reliance on bricks and mortar, will always be a significant contributor to the Government’s £27bn business rates pot.

Be aware of transitional relief, but new rateable values for all properties can be checked here: https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates

As of this week, companies can put in proposals to challenge their assessments, having taken advice from their rating surveyors. However, the rating world is becoming more litigious. A new appeal system – ‘Check Challenge Appeal’ – is causing concern even before it becomes live, with ratepayers viewing the system as placing more burden on them, with no corresponding obligation on the Valuation Office, which usually has not even inspected the property it is purporting to assess. With the Valuation Office and Tribunals already overloaded, there is little expectation that the new system will do anything but increase costs and the time it takes to settle appeals.

There has also been case law which will impact upon your 2017 assessments. The Newbigin case has been heard by the Supreme Court and properties undergoing substantial redevelopment are unlikely to be rateable, although there may be exceptions depending on the nature of the works and which parts of the building are affected. There have also been new authorities on the rateability of plant and machinery, such as the Iceland case, which would affect the assessment of many properties within this sector.

It may take some months for ratepayers to find their way around the changes and it certainly looks like ratepayers will be made to fight for accurate and fair assessments.