Monmouthshire County Council is to urge the Welsh Government to postpone draft proposals for massive hikes in the county’s draft business revaluations.  This call, made at a meeting of the county council on Thursday 1st December, aims to allow time for a thorough review of the methodology and results of the revaluation.  It comes after Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Bob Greenland, officers and a local chamber of commerce representative met with senior officials of the (Valuation Office Agency) VOA at County Hall on 30th November to discuss the matter.  Recently-proposed rateable values are based on the rental value of properties at 1st April 2015, reflecting changes in the property market across the country since the last revaluation came into force in 2010 based on 2008 rental values.

The Valuation Office Agency has published the draft valuations now to give businesses the opportunity to go online and check their proposed assessments. If businesses think the information about their property is factually incorrect and they therefore do not agree with the proposed level of assessment they can contact the VOA by e-mailing them at: nsorevalenquiries@voa.gsi.gov.uk  – the VOA will aim to respond within 40 working days. The valuations are effective from 1st April 2017 and only at that point can a formal appeal be made but ratepayers are encouraged to get in touch about their valuations for an informal review as soon as possible. To find and review their rateable value and get an estimate of the 2017-2018 bill, businesses should go to https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates but note that a new transitional relief scheme is planned, though this has not been factored into the online assessments.

If a business believes its revised assessment is factually incorrect, it should contact the Valuation Office immediately.  Any appeal launched after 1st April 2017 will have to go through the formal challenge process which can be time consuming. Businesses are urged to act quickly.

Deputy Leader Bob Greenland said: “Having sought clarity from the VOA on the business revaluation hikes we urge businesses to take immediate action to address any revaluation errors.  This revaluation is of such importance to our businesses in Monmouthshire that it was discussed by all members in Council on Thursday, 1st December when I successfully proposed a motion urging Welsh Government to postpone these draft proposals to allow time for a thorough review of the methodology and results of this revaluation. Alternatively we call upon the Welsh Government to postpone any increases until the results of the appeals are known.  And finally, we look for sympathetic transitional arrangements for all businesses.  The Welsh Government has announced a transitional scheme for small businesses, but has not done the same for larger businesses which will be harder hit.

“I have also made representations to Welsh Government, sending a letter to the First Minister and drawing his attention to the serious consequences for many of our businesses in the county. While most council areas in Wales, including Cardiff, have seen net reductions in rateable values through these proposals, in Monmouthshire we have seen over 65% of business rates increased, some hiked by as much as 300% with a few even above that. We will continue to work with our Assembly Member and Member of Parliament to get a fair and just settlement for our businesses.”

David Cummings, Chairman of Monmouth and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce was authorised by business organisations in the county to represent all 3,167 businesses with rateable premises at the meeting.  He said: “Following our very constructive meeting with the VOA, the council and I have agreed a joint strategy to work together in the best interests of businesses badly affected by the rate revaluation.  This strategy relates to our approach to the VOA as well as our dealings with the Welsh Government on transitional relief and on possible changes to existing Small Business Rates Relief.“