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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 9th Jul 2014 - Breaking News - Star Pubs protests over two-year rates appeal delays
Star Pubs & Bars calls for better Valuation Office Agency resourcing after two-year delays: Star Pubs & Bars is calling for better resourcing of the Valuation Office Agency and a simplification of the business rates appeal process when changes come into force in October as analysis of 500 of its appeals reveals the average time taken to settle an appeal is two years two months and the maximum to be four years. 16% of Star Pubs & Bars appeals delays were compounded by postponement and rescheduling of appeals by the Valuation Office. Star Pubs & Bars believes delays could be worse for other licensees as it was one of the first to review its pubs ratings assessments when the Rating List came out in April 2010 and therefore has only 1% of its original appeals outstanding, whereas some operators still have 25% unresolved. Nearly half of appeals made by Star Pubs & Bars’ chartered surveyors, Gerald Eve, are successful, resulting in average savings of £2,500 per year for lessees whilst one sixth cut lessees’ bills by over £10,000 a year. Said Star Pubs & Bars trading director Chris Jowsey: “These are considerable sums of money especially where the charges date back over a number of years, money that could have been invested back into businesses to grow and develop them for the future. In a difficult economic climate when licensees are doing all they can to reduce their overheads, it is unacceptable that so much of their money is tied up with their local Councils and for rebates to take so long. Changes to the appeals process are especially vital given the increasing length of time between rates revaluations.” Added Charles Wilford from rating experts Gerald Eve: “Appeal negotiations require a two way dialogue. There is an increasing trend for the Valuation Office to play their cards close to their chest, often refusing to show their hand or provide information they are relying upon until they are on the steps of the Tribunal. Furthermore, where licensees have suffered declining trade for genuine valuation reasons, all too often the response from the Valuation Office is to simply blame recession, relying too heavily on desk based computer generated answers rather than getting out to see for themselves – the response: ‘the computer says no’ but without the reasons behind this is simply not acceptable.”

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