The Reformed System introduced by the Government has seen the implementation of a three-stage system: Check, Challenge, Appeal.
The process is designed with the intention of managing the flow of cases through the system, in a structured and transparent way, which will allow ratepayers to make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Facts concerning the property must be agreed between the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Ratepayer or the Agent. The intention is for this element of the process to be swift, and lead to an agreed position for the great majority of cases.
A streamlined process will enable verified ratepayers to enter the Challenge stage immediately if they have confirmed, within 4 months of the Check concluding, that property specific details held by the VOA are correct. This confirmation will be made easily via an online account that enables the ratepayer to log on and confirm that facts relevant to their valuation, held by the VOA, are correct. For the vast majority of ratepayers who can confirm the details are current and correct, we expect this will be a simple and swift element of the process
This stage will address the appeals that remain outstanding and which are material, on the basis of arguments and evidence which have already been established.
HM Government has stated that there was widespread concern over the previous Non-Domestic Ratings system being broken and in need of reform.
By the end of March 2016, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) had succeeded in clearing nearly 666,000 appeals on the 2010 rating list. VOA resources were transferred from Revaluation 2017 to resolving appeals, but too many appeals still remain held up for too long, creating costs and uncertainty for businesses and Local Authorities alike. Longer term performance is dependent on successful implementation of these reforms.
Following a Government consultation, which ran from October 2015 to January 2016, it was identified that reform of the ratings system was necessary, and proposals for a new three-stage approach to business rates appeals: Check, Challenge, Appeal were put forward.
The reform provides a system which is supposedly easier to navigate, particularly for small businesses or unrepresented ratepayers, with the emphasis on early engagement by the parties to reach a swift resolution of cases. Under the new system, the Government believed that businesses would be more confident that their valuations are correct and that they are paying the right amount of Business Rates and any refunds due would be paid more quickly.