Firms are told not to risk refunds

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WIGAN businesses are being warned they may become “April fools” by sacrificing tens of thousands of pounds in rating refunds and savings if they do not act quickly.

The alert has come from Simon Heather, a partner with North West-based property consultancy and chartered surveyor Sanderson Weatherall.

He said: “The rates that businesses pay on their premises are linked to valuations which have previously changed every five years. The last such review took effect in April 2010 but the Government announced a couple of years ago that the revaluation expected to happen this year would be postponed until 2017.

“Then, last December, the Government said if businesses lodged appeals against rateable values on or after April 1 this year, a successful reduction in valuation would mean payment reductions only applying for the two years between that date and the end of March 2017.

“In other words, refunds and savings would no longer be backdated for the full period since the last revaluation took effect, which has been the practice until now.”

Mr Heather said the Government was therefore hitting businesses with a double-whammy.

Firstly, it had postponed reviewing rateable values which, in many cases, were punitively high, compared to current rental values.

Now, it was preventing businesses from reclaiming five years’ worth of over-payments which their successful appeals would have officially confirmed were excessive.

He said: “It’s not surprising, particularly in the light of the earlier blow and the second hit being announced at short notice, that Chancellor George Osborne didn’t choose to highlight the latter in his Autumn Statement and this very significant development for business ratepayers was only revealed in the accompanying paperwork.”

Mr Heather said rates were typically a business’s third biggest outgoing making it was therefore vital that professionals examine valuations urgently.