Independent retailers are calling on their industry fellows to appeal against new business rates valuations introduced this month.
Values are now calculated based on property rental prices as measured during buoyant conditions in April 2008, which could mean substantial increases for some retailers, despite government claims that most would see a reduction in their rates under the new review.
Sunder Sandher of Londis Leamington Spa, contacted his local council after numerous attempts to determine his new value on the Valuations Office Agency (VOA’s) website failed. He discovered that his business rates would rise by £1500 over the next five years.
“I will obviously appeal this,” he said. “In this current economic climate it is just appalling that I am facing considerably higher bills.
“I urge other retailers in a similar position to not sit back and take this on the chin. They must get out there and shout about it,” he added.
Independent retailer Raj Aggarwal also vowed to take up the fight if he was hit by a rates rise.
“I will be furious if my rates have risen as it is only a small store and times are tough,” he said. He also slammed the VOA for its lack of clarification about the new system.
“The system is so confusing that I have no idea what the outcome will be,” he said. “I’m a clever retailer, but Joe Bloggs wouldn’t understand a thing.”
ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) public affairs director Shane Brennan also called on retailers to challenge rates they were unhappy with.
However he urged retailers to be extra cautious when seeking advice on making a challenge, following a rise in the number of fraudulent organisations offering help with business rate appeals.
Many claim they will not take a fee unless the appeal is accepted - but in fact all appeals are accepted.
“Retailers should ensure they only use approved providers,” he said. “Remember the old adage: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
Request your new valuation at www.voa.gov.uk