Industry wants coalition to look again at property rates change

Ben Southwood
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RETAIL and property groups yesterday demanded the government consider axing part of the coalition’s Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which postpones the next property revaluation upon which rates are based.

The last ratings revaluation used values from 2008 – at the height of the housing boom – which industry bodies say is penalising firms in the areas hit hardest by the slump.

Areas where rents fell more than average would face reduced bills under a revaluation, while without one rates will rise in line with the retail prices index whether or not the property value has changed.

Under the bill currently before parliament, firms would be stuck with 2008 rates until 2017, rather than 2015 as planned.

But the process would have both winners and losers. A shift would be likely to hike rates liabilities for firms occupying property in London, where house price growth has been strong despite the downturn.

The Association of Convenience Stores, Action for Market Towns, the Association of Town Centre Management, the British Council of Shopping Centres, the British Independent Retailers Association, and the British Property Foundation (BPF) have all weighed in to demand “an open and evidence-based debate on the implications of the delay for UK retailers”.

Business rates are currently paid in England and Wales at a rate between 45 and 45.8 per cent of a property’s rateable value – which is an estimate of the annual rent the property could have attracted on the market. Any rate changes are designed to be revenue neutral.