The partnership aims to ensure Star’s leased & tenanted pubs are not excessively assessed and subsequently overcharged by updating the operator’s business rates support for its licensees.
Operators will be able challenge their current rates payable to prevent any errors continuing onto the 2023 list and pre-negotiate their new draft rateable value with the Valuations Office Agency prior to it becoming effective in April 2023.
Star Pubs & Bars’ property director Chris Moore said: “Business rates have a massive impact on a pub’s profitability.
“Not only are they one of a pub’s highest overheads, but they are often used to determine other costs such as water bills and the late-night levy, too. After the challenges of the last two years, it’s essential they don’t pay a penny more than they should.”
Plan with confidence
In addition, Star has planned to assess all its 2,400 pubs’ 2023 ratings valuations as they are received later this year and alert any licensees it believes should seek a review.
Moore added: “With assessments based on turnover, and trade having been inconsistent due to the pandemic, the likelihood of erroneous valuations being set on the new rating list is real.
“It’s vital licensees act early so their 2023 rateable value is accurate from the outset, and they don't have cash unnecessarily tied up with their local council.
"This approach also gives pubs certainty, enabling them to plan with more confidence and reducing the need for time-consuming appeals.”
Licensee of the Bull Inn, Warlingham, Surrey, Ann Cooper, trialled Star’s new appeals service with Dunlop Heywood and has since reduced the pub’s rateable value by more than 25%.
Cooper was also given a rebate of £13,800 and has now signed up with Dunlop Heywood to pre-negotiate the pub’s new 2023 rateable value before it become effective.
She said: “I’m chuffed to bits. I always thought my business rates were too high, lockdown gave me time to get the figures together and challenge them.
“The annual savings make the pub more sustainable and offset inflation in other areas, such as energy prices. Having a more accurate rateable value has made me more confident to renew my lease for another five years.
Reassurance for pubs
“The rebate will enable me to invest in a new covered inside/outside area to cater for customers who are still cautious about sitting indoors.
“Like many pubs, rates are my third biggest overhead, so the savings from a successful challenge are significant. Trying to find those kinds of savings from cutting costs in other places would have been very difficult.”
Following Star’s partnership with Dunlop Heywood, the operator will receive no financial benefit, however, its licensees could see rates payable savings backdated to 2017.
Moore concluded: “The rating system is now so complex that any kind of appeal needs to be carried out by an expert, unfortunately, there are some less reputable advisors in the market who charge high upfront fees and fail to deliver results.
“Our new partnership with Dunlop Heywood gives our pubs the reassurance of being able to access trustworthy advisors should they need them.”