Q I have been approached by a "Rating Consultant", who has suggested that he is able to reduce my business rates. Should I have any concerns?
A It is possible but be very careful about the firm that has approached you. Over the years many publicans have lost hundreds of pounds by engaging the services of unscrupulous firms claiming to be independent rating consultants.
Many of the firms claim they can slash rates bills in return for an upfront fee. However, in reality many publicans have been left out-of-pocket. There are some genuine firms who have secured good rates reductions for publicans so if you are interested in a firm's claims it is important to check up on them first and follow these basic guidelines.
Be wary of firms who "guarantee" a result. Appeals go through a lengthy procedure and there is even a possibility that rates could rise as a result.
Remember that most good firms do not require an up-front fee and will ask for payment when the procedure has reached a conclusion
Bear in mind that it costs next-to-nothing to make an appeal personally and should you feel confident enough you can conduct the procedure yourself
Ask any firm for references from other publicans and check them out personally.
Qualifications can be checked through:
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors on 020 7222 3505
Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation on 020 7831 3505