The current rating lists in Wales came into force on 1 April 2017. Normally, revaluations take place every five years, but the Welsh Assembly Government had announced its intention to bring forward the next revaluation from 2022 to 2021, relying upon the Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) Bill, which was introduced into the Westminster parliament.
That Bill was introduced before the COVID-19 pandemic and the Westminster Government had subsequently announced its intention to withdraw the legislation. The Welsh Assembly Government statement confirms “the next non-domestic rates revaluation in Wales will take effect in 2023 and will be based on property values as at 1 April 2021”, and says that “the change will also mean that the next revaluation in Wales takes effect at the same time as that in England, ensuring businesses and other ratepayers in Wales are not placed at a disadvantage compared to those elsewhere”.
The effect of this announcement is that current rating lists in Wales will remain in force until 2023. Many ratepayers are benefitting from a 100% rate holiday for the current year as we have reported in these News pages. As matters now stand, these properties will revert to full liability from 1 April 2021, based on current rateable values, and those values will remain in force until 2023.
The Welsh Assembly Government statement also says that it “continues to explore more fundamental reforms to the local taxation system”, although its last update on this topic was in November last year and much has changed since then.
The Welsh Government’s announcement is an understandable one, given that similar announcements have already been made in England. But changes resulting from the pandemic and the restrictions that have been put in place to combat it, have shown that, if anything, more frequent revaluations, rather than less frequent, are needed to reflect changes in the economy and in society. Ratepayers will now be focused, more than ever, on rates reliefs, and possible appeals against current values, to reflect the effect of the pandemic.
A preferable course of action, in both England and Wales, would have been to carry out the revaluation as originally planned in 2022, but to base it on values at 1 April 2021. This would ensure that property values reflected the effects of recent changes, and that those values were introduced as soon as possible. But such considerations are notably absent from the Government statements in both England and Wales.