Maximising business rates yield – Four areas for consideration

August 19, 2019 7:37 am Published by Leave your thoughts


Non-domestic rate collections in England are up with a 3.5% increase in 2018-19 and £25.3bn collected, representing an additional £856 million on the previous year. Looking at the financial year ahead, we expect this trend to continue and possibly increase further as the rates retention scheme incentivises Authorities to maximise business rates yield using whatever means available.

This is something the team at Wilks Head and Eve have been assisting clients with since the introduction of the scheme back in 2013-14. In this article we highlight four ways we help our clients maximise their business rates yield.

  1. Missing or Undervalued Assessments

You could be missing out on thousands of pounds of annual revenue if you don’t have the ability to identify significant changes which affect the rateable valuable of properties in your area or identify those that are simply missing or not included in the Local List. In the last 5 years alone Wilks Head and Eve have been able to generate over £100m in additional revenue for clients in this area.

Key areas to focus on for finding these assessments include data analysis, by comparing the internal data you hold against external datasets such as the commercial lettings database or companies house. Similarly, by reviewing both the 2010 and the 2017 Rating List and drawing comparisons you can identify changes between lists which may indicate missing or undervalued properties.

  1. Relief & Exemption Reviews

With a number of different rate relief schemes in place such as Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), Rural Rates Relief (RRR) and Mandatory Rate Relief (MRR) covering charities and community and amateur sports clubs, the potential for error and fraud is significant.

There needs to be mechanisms in place that validates the eligibility of these companies to receive the relief in the first instance and then to review them to ensure that ratepayers remain entitled to the reliefs thereafter. Using third party data sources and cross-referencing data, there are tools available to help streamline the process of identifying instances where companies may no longer qualify for relief.

  1. Renewable Energy (RE) Projects

With Billing Authorities able to retain 100% of rates collected from any hereditament which contains renewable energy elements  it is in the Authorities interest to identify any new builds, or properties which have been converted or expanded and meets this criteria. Similarly, renewable technologies may have been installed in a property which may have a separate identifiable impact on rateable value, for example solar panels.

Using aerial photography, google earth satellite maps and sector-specific knowledge, the team at Wilks Head and Eve are able to quite quickly spot the characteristics which identify a renewable energy project you may otherwise be unaware of. The team then typically requests the necessary information from the Valuation Office Agency to enable our clients to retain the full rates attributable to the renewable element.

  1. Completion Notices

With no legal obligation for businesses or developers to inform Billing Authorities of any new developments, you are reliant on the level and detail of the data held by your internal planning department. The quicker you can assess, inspect and agree on completion dates, the quicker your properties are added into the Rating List.

Completion dates are often challenged by developers. It is therefore important for Authorities to ensure that the date used is correct and that the notice is served properly. Using surveying and valuation experts can help expedite the process for under-resourced planning and business rates teams. By carrying out site inspections, assessments of schedule of works, negotiating rates with ratepayers or agents and responding to appeals on your behalf, companies like Wilks Head and Eve can significantly increase your business rates yield and get a better handle on new developments in your area.

Conclusion
In an era where budgets are ever tighter, resources are decreasing and yet there is still the expectation of delivering the same service levels, any additional income generated through collections activity will help relieve the pressure.

By working with valuation and ratings specialists on the areas above, you can not only generate more income by maximising business rates yield, you will ensure you have a thorough grasp and knowledge of all the activity which is currently impacting rates retention in your Authority.

If you want to find out more about our services please contact atownsend@wilks-head.co.uk or call 0207 637 8471.

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This post was written by Alistair Townsend

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