MA500

Valuations Office Agency ‘starved of resource’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Concrete action: Stephen Philp of Altus Group says the VOA is being asked to do more with less
Concrete action: Stephen Philp of Altus Group says the VOA is being asked to do more with less

Related tags: Voa, Business rates

Action must be taken to reform the Valuations Office Agency (VOA), which is currently under-resourced, according to Altus Group rating chairman Stephen Philp.

Speaking to delegates at The Morning Advertiser​’s MA500 conference in London last week (Thursday 13 February), he said there was a “starvation of resource”, which prevented efficiency in processing publicans’ appeals. 

The current Check, Challenge, Appeal system was introduced in 2017 for businesses to appeal their rateable value and business rates bills. 

Philp pointed to how there is a 12-month window for the Check process and then a further 18 months once a case has been moved into the Challenge stage.

He said: “But concrete action is now needed. The situation is salvageable but more resource must be found now for the VOA, which is being asked to do more with less. 

“The Government should also look to immediately change the law to reduce the maximum response time from 18 months to a more acceptable timescale in respect of submitted Challenges.”

He also said more often than not it was mainly young graduate valuers who have not been exposed to the nuances of pub valuations dealing with the Check process.

Keyboard exchanges

He told conference attendees: “The old system was more relaxed, more face to face as opposed to keyboard exchanges with a faceless surveyor. 

“You got the opportunity to fully go into the rigours of the advantages and disadvantages of a pub, which you certainly do not in the Check and early stages of Challenge appeal processes.”

A VOA spokesperson said: “We increased our levels of recruitment last year and continue to recruit this year. 

“We continually monitor staffing levels against our work plan, to ensure we have resource in place with the right skills and experience to deliver against our business plan.”

It said it has 42 offices across England, Wales and Scotland and a spokesperson said there had been no major restructuring of staff or office numbers in recent years.

The agency said most checks are resolved within three months.

Related topics: Legislation

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