Struggling retailers, already suffering from the imbalance of the current business rates regime are facing a double hardship as the appeal system spirals out of control, impairing their ability to receive much needed refunds, says John Webber, Head of Business Rates at leading international property consultants Colliers International.
According to Webber, retailers who pay an unproportionate slice of the UK’s £26bn business rates bill (this year retail is expected to pay in the range of around £7.625bn ) rely on their refunds from successful appeals when planning their business forecasts. Through the experience of his own clients, Webber estimates that on average retailers receive approximately 5% of their annual rates bill back as a cash refund. Failure to receive this therefore means retailers are losing out on over £38m a year of a much-needed cash injection and given that the list began in April 2017, Webber estimates this means they could be out of pocket for around £115m.
Much has been made of the difficulties for companies trying to get their appeals through CCA, the Government’s Check, Challenge, Appeal, business rates appeal system introduced in 2017, which has been branded by many in the rating profession as cumbersome and complicated. The system is so difficult to navigate that retailers have either delayed putting in their appeals, in the hope that the system gets sorted, or find themselves stuck in the Check and Challenges stage of the process, before even getting to appeal.
Webber added, “The impact of the snarl up in the Government’s business rates appeals system is taking its toll.
“And latest figures don’t give any promise that the situation is getting any better.”