The research has uncovered a backlog of over 328,000 business rate appeals at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), a third of which date back to 2005 and 19,084 relate to hotel and leisure businesses.
The result is that tens of thousands of business ratepayers have paid too much and are unable to retrieve the money as a result of an inefficient appeals process.
“The VOA’s speed of processing business rate appeals is unacceptably slow, said Don Baker, national head of rating at CVS. “At the moment, businesses need all the revenue they can get and the VOA’s inefficiency is penalising companies unfairly and preventing those companies from recovering money that is rightfully theirs.
At the VOA’s current rate of performance, it will take a further 2.4 years to clear the backlog of 2010 appeals. Thousands of appeals against the 2005 ratings list are also still outstanding and the VOA is holding over appeals from 2005 to consider alongside those from 2010 creating an additional and extended backlog.
Urgent action needed
“This is weakening the financial health of a large number of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) across the country and damaging businesses’ ability to invest and grow,” added Baker. “Urgent action is needed to clear the backlog and to give SMEs a fighting chance of leading the recovery.”
Mandy Hoare, an independent cafe owner from Truro, Cornwall, said: “In this economic climate independent business owners like me need all the help we can get. I can appreciate the VOA want to complete their appeals correctly, but the length of time to wait is just crazy.
“Firms who have paid too much rates should have that money returned to them. That’s fair and equitable and will help SME businesses support the growth agenda the Government is keen to push.”