Review of local government finance processes

The Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Sajid Javid, has announced an independent review of his own department's process and procedures for the governance of the business rates system. The review will be led by Andrew Hudson, the former Director General for Public Services at HM Treasury, who is also a former Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency. The review recognises the increasing importance of business rates in funding local government. ...Read More

Bill to reverse the “Staircase Tax”

The legislation to reverse the effects of the Supreme Court judgment in Woolway (VO) v Mazars LLP (2015) has now been introduced into Parliament. The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill provides that, where two or more hereditaments occupied or owned by the same person meet certain conditions as to contiguity, those hereditaments may be treated for the purposes of non-domestic rating as one hereditament. ...Read More

More frequent rating revaluations

In his Spring Statement 2018, the Chancellor has announced that the next rating revaluation in England will be brought forward from 2022 to 2021. This change forms part of the response to a 2016 Government consultation on delivering more frequent rating revaluations. But unless there is some wider, and genuine, reform of the business rates system, altering the date of the revaluation will simply bring forward, but at a slightly earlier date, the fundamental problems of the rating system - which are too high a level of tax and too much complexity. Is the proposal to change the date of the revaluation simply rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic? ...Read More

Air handling system not rateable

The Supreme Court has determined that a specialised air handling system installed by Iceland, the frozen foods retailer, at its stores is not a rateable item of plant and machinery. The air handling system was plant and machinery "used in connection with services mainly or exclusively as part of manufacturing operations or trade processes" and was therefore to be ignored when valuing the property for rating purposes. Retailers and other occupiers will look carefully at specialist items of plant and machinery, where these are included in rating valuations, in the light of this decision. ...Read More