Retailers have an opportunity to have their say on business rates.
The Administration of Business Rates in England discussion paper has been launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government in an effort to “strengthen its responsiveness to changes in property values” and create “transparency for business ratepayers”.
Action on business rates was first announced by the government in the Autumn Statement 2013 and the discussion paper is designed as “the next step in the process to seek ideas and potential solutions”.
According to the paper, the average annual business rates bill for 2014/15 is estimated to be £12,500 with total rates revenue forecast at £22.4bn.
Although it doesn’t contain any reform proposals, the document invites submissions from stakeholders on issues of how property is valued, regularity of valuations, collection of business rates, how rates are set and how information about ratepayers is used.
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP said: “We want to see more businesses investing and helping our economy to grow. The government recognises that business rates represent a fixed cost for businesses which can be more burdensome during times of economic difficulties. We also recognise that the administration of business rates can be improved.”
According to Gauke, any potential reforms would be made after the next business rates evaluation in April 2017.
“The next step is to improve the business rates system in England so that it works better in the 21st century,” he said. “We want to find ways to make the business rates system simpler, more transparent and more responsive to economic circumstances. This paper summarises how the business rates system works and opens up a discussion with a view to reforming the system after the next revaluation in April 2017.”
The deadline for submissions is 6 June 2014.