Appointment conferences on company charges have been suspended as 1000’s of corporations await the end result

Many companies have appealed against business advice

Talks between the government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Rating Surveyors Agency's (RSA) Covid-19 strategy group on appeals against corporate rates have ended.

There is no indication that the talks will resume. The VOA states that it was unable to take part in any further discussions for the foreseeable future.

Many work areas, such as B. Offices have been paying business fees throughout the pandemic, although the areas remain largely unused. Retail, leisure, and hospitality companies had a business-rate vacation to weather the year's lockdowns.

> See also: What Coronavirus Business Support Is The Government Offering?

With a large proportion of employees working from home, some companies have lost profitability. In an attempt to recover some of the cost, the number of companies responding to business rates due to material changes in circumstances is higher than ever.

Hundreds of thousands of companies are still waiting for the outcome of their Covid-19-related business rate complaints, according to Colliers.

Figures from the Check Challenge Appeal show that between March and December 2020, 289,510 checks (this is the first stage of the appeal process) were made, with 70 percent related to material changes in circumstances. In addition, the number of appeals has continued to rise since early 2021 and estimates that the outstanding number of Covid-19 checks outstanding is 350,000. The RSA represents over 85 percent of tariff payers for whom the circumstances of the business rates have changed significantly.

Although talks between the VOA and RSA should go well last fall, an early press release sent to the media by an agent company in December derailed discussions between the VOA and representatives of SMEs at Christmas time.

In these talks, the VOA had made an initial offer to lower business rates by 25 percent, which should have increased to 75 percent. However, the offer was withdrawn when the news came to light and unfortunately before the offer could be properly accepted.

"The VOA's order not to resume negotiations or to work constructively with us (the RSA) could ring the death knell for many companies that have held on in hopes of reimbursement for their business tariffs," said John Webber, director of business Rates teams at Colliers, which is itself part of the RSA.

"One wonders about the hand of the Chancellor. Is he just stuck with the fact that he can play Santa Claus in the budget on March 3rd – to bask in the glory of the return of company money that it shouldn't have paid out?

"We urge the Chancellor to instruct the VOA to resume negotiations with us, or to come clean and explain why this is not the case." Our customers deserve more consideration than having to dry for three months like this. "

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