Market Insight

Business rates payers beware – you have a new Duty to Notify

At the 2021 Autumn Budget, the government concluded its review of the business rates system and announced various support packages and proposals to “improve” the rating system.
April 19, 2022
The review set out the government’s plans to improve how the system worked, by moving to three-yearly revaluations from 2023.

This was to ensure fewer surprises for ratepayers from revaluation to revaluation, allowing businesses to better anticipate future business rates liability.

However, not all the changes proposed were as positive as they might appear on the surface. Some, in fact, have increased the administrative burden for businesses, even further.

New ‘Duty to Notify’ to be phased in

A new ‘Duty to Notify’ provision will be phased in from 2023, making it mandatory for ratepayers to notify the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) of any changes to their building which might impact its valuation, and therefore their business rates liability. This in addition to their annual information return!

With such a self-declaration in place, the VOA hopes to base their valuations on more comprehensive and up-to-date evidence, resulting in more reliable valuations and a greater level of confidence amongst ratepayers, that they will be paying the right amount in business rates.

However, what is actually means in practice, is yet more red tape for businesses to comply with.

More administrative burden for business

The addition of the Duty to Notify represents a wholesale change in the way in which ratepayers will interact with the rating system and the division of roles and responsibilities between ratepayer and VOA.

The government should not underestimate the increased administrative burden that this will place on businesses, some of whom will have had little dealings with the system up to this point.

What sort of changes to your property is the VOA interested in?

If you have made a material change to your building which could affect its valuation, you will need to provide detailed information about this to the VOA under the new ‘Duty to Notify’.

This might include any improvements you’ve made to the premises – from installation of air conditioning and extensions to the addition of mezzanine floors which may increase the rateable value of the property.

This list is not exhaustive but gives an indication of the scope of changes that would need to be reported on.

What information will you have to provide as part of your ‘Duty to Notify’?

You will need to provide the VOA with a host of information, including:

  • Information about the property and any changes made to it
  • Information about the tenancy and use of the property
  • Trade and accounts information (where relevant to the valuation)
  • Costs information (where relevant to the valuation)
What can you do to prepare?

The duty to notify provision will be phased in and subject to a soft launch and considerable user testing during the 2023 list.

With this in mind, it will be important to ensure that you:

  • Obtain a full technical survey of your property
  • Summarise the changes made to your building, with their associated costs
  • Compile a file of rent/lease/ownership details, including up to date rental information.
How Vail Williams can help

We understand the challenge and complexity that business rates represent for your business.

Our team of business rates experts based across the country will review your rating assessment where you believe you have made changes, or on larger sites where you are, perhaps, uncertain.

We can then report the likely impact of these and, once the Regulations have been published and the VOA system is updated, we can act on your behalf to regularise your position with the VOA.

Contact our business rates team for more information or complete our online questionnaire which will trigger a call back from our rating experts.