VOA promises to improve challenge and appeal processes for rates

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Quickly as possible: VOA assures improvements are being made following feedback
Quickly as possible: VOA assures improvements are being made following feedback

Related tags Appeal

The Government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) said it is working to improve its check, challenge, appeal (CCA) service “as quickly as possible” after complaints from publicans that the website is “not fit for purpose”, leaving businesses which are challenging their rates bills “in limbo”.

Responding to the criticisms, a VOA spokesman told The Morning Advertiser​ the body wanted to assure businesses it is “continuing to make improvements to the online check and challenge service based on customer feedback”.

“Working with our customers, we're looking at all options to improve the service as quickly as possible, particularly for agents and multiple property owners,” he said.

Appeal route for ‘those that most need it’

Defending its new system, which came online in April, the VOA said: “The new system allows businesses to get their issues handled at the right stage, reserving the appeal route for those that most need it, and saving them time and effort.”

However in May, rent and rates specialist CVS said thousands of businesses which are challenging their rates bill were “in limbo”​ because the VOA’s website was not working well enough.

And last week business rates agents, including Collier’s International, drafted a template letter​ for its clients to use to write to MPs to complain about the VOA website due to concerns the appeal system was “letting businesses down in a bad way”.

Needs a rethink

Responding to the VAO’s latest comments, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) said the agency’s website and appeals process “does not work and needs immediate attention”, adding that the process, along with the entire rates system, “needs a rethink”.

“An accurate, transparent and responsive appeals process is required if the business rates system is to work,” said ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“We are seeing evidence of appeals stalling and businesses being left in limbo because they are unsure of the amount they need to pay. This causes even more uncertainty for businesses which are, in many cases, already facing significant rates bills increases.”

Related topics Legislation

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