Although both groups broadly support the changes, which would streamline the appeals process for business owners, the ALMR said it was concerned the proposals could delay further reform.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are pleased to see the Government addressing the issue of reform in this area, but we are also worried that the focus may be drifting away from once in a generation reform the Government has promised.
“Property costs for pubs and bars remain the second largest operational overhead and the ALMR’s annual Benchmarking Report shows them rising by 18 per cent over the past decade. The average pub currently pays just under £15k with nightclubs paying over £26k. Reforming the appeal system is a small step on the way to change, but we need to ensure the focus remains on larger scale, meaningful reform.”
The proposals, currently being put through Parliament, introduce a new three-stage system for business rate appeals - ‘Check, Challenge and Appeal’. ‘Check’ involves a top-line look at how the rateable value is calculated and allows businesses to point out obvious errors. The ‘Challenge’ stage involves a more detailed dialogue with the VOA on contentious points, which then makes a judgment. The final stage allows an appeal against this to the Valuation Tribunal.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the proposals were a 'step in the right direction' but had concerns about the timescales involved in the ‘check and challenge’ stages in particularly.
"It is one part of the jigsaw in what is much needed reform of the rates system, and we will continue to work for an effective revaluation in 2017, and encourage local councils to help pubs by cutting their rates burden, as well as calling for new ways of spreading the burden fairly among other businesses," she said. "We would also urge Government to reconsider the ending of Retail Relief in April 2016, which will add up to £1,500 to the rates bills of three-quarters of pubs, this April.”