THE latest proposed procedure for business rate appeals in Scotland has been branded ‘overly complicated’ as real estate firm Colliers warns that ratepayers will be left on the back foot when it comes to appeals and will be unable to navigate the process without professional advice.
The latest publication of the appeals process follows the Scottish Government issuing its amendments subsequent to the consultation on reforming the non-domestic rates system. The Government has confirmed that the legislation for these changes will be laid on 7 October.
Louise Daly, head of Rating at Colliers Scotland, said: “The recent amendments created a series of ‘red flags’ for us who work on rating appeals day-to-day in terms of complexity. This latest proposal cements the fact that many businesses will be unable to successfully submit an appeal without an advisor or at the very least a detailed understanding of the current and proposed changes to our rating system. It seems the Scottish Government is intent on creating an overly complicated appeals system to the detriment of our local businesses.”
“There has been absolutely no effort by the Scottish Government to date to communicate with ratepayers to let them know that these huge fundamental changes are coming in Scotland. The onus the system now places on businesses takes a huge and unnecessary leap to try to shut down a ratepayer’s right to challenge their rateable value and have the Assessors fully justify it.”
Colliers warns that the changes to the rating system is too much at once, particularly as systems and processes are not already in place.
Louise continued: “The constant updates to the system are making this a nightmare for both Assessors and ratepayers to manage in such a compressed timescale. The consultation exercise that the Scottish Government had was just a tick box exercise and none of the fundamental concerns have been addressed. It had the opportunity to make the Scottish system the best in the UK, instead it wants to pursue a prescriptive system and try to shut down the appeals process. This new proposal makes the English Check, Challenge and Appeal system look like a dream, and that’s with its well-publicised issues.”
There is a level of unfairness for the ratepayer, says Colliers, as the tight deadlines set by the Scottish Government are creating a system stacked against them. Louise explained: “Where is the fairness to the ratepayer when they have not even been made aware that these changes are afoot? For many the first notification of this may only be when the draft Valuation Notice is issued in November, at a time when they will not have been made aware of what their significantly altered rights of appeal for the 2023 Revaluation are.”