Rating advice in demand at Chamber Expo

The controversial rates revaluation process led to a rush of business for AS Rating and more than justified the company’s decision to strengthen its presence at this year’s Chamber Expo.

Adrian Smith, founder of the company, said he was inundated with enquiries from business owners who remain baffled by the changes months after they were introduced. He added that he expects the confusion to continue as the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) struggles to streamline its “check, challenge, appeal” system.

Adrian said: “This year at Expo I had four times as much space and there wasn’t a gap of more than about five minutes between people coming to see me. That’s because the issue of business rates is so topical this year.”

Various questions arose from business people making assumptions about information which they had heard from other people involved in rating issues. There were also specific questions from people who wanted to know about their rates liability for only occupying part of a property, and who were concerned about having to pay rates on premises undergoing major refurbishment.

Adrian said the confusion is compounded by the need for business rates payers to register on the VOA’s website before they can check the rateable value of their property.

He said: “Under the new check, challenge, appeal regulations a business owner has the opportunity to check their rating assessment, but first that they need to carry out a registration process which can be quite lengthy and complicated.

“You can’t check your valuation until you have been through the registration process, and that requirement could put some people off checking and mean they end up paying more than they should. There will be business owners out there who have no idea of what is involved and therefore no idea whether their payments are correct.”