The business rates system is likely to face reforms in the coming years such that landlords may be required to pay a proportion of the rateable value of a property, according to John Webber, head of rating at Colliers.

Speaking at MCA’s latest FD Leaders event on 17 January, Webber said the 2026 rating revaluation of business rates may be postponed if fundamental changes to the current system are proposed, following a change of government. Rateable values based on the pandemic may therefore last longer.

“There’s no way, in the middle of the pandemic, that business rates correctly reflected Covid,” Webber said. “Despite grants and relief and the rest of it, the reality is that there could have been material changes during that period.

“Rateable values could have been reduced significantly…the government said that Covid will be reflected in those values in the 2023 revaluation.”

The most recent revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2017 as the 2021 revaluation was postponed due to the pandemic.

“In the draft 2023 Rating List figures, leisure has come down by 2% between 2015-2021 and pubs by 17%,” Webber added. “That can’t possibly be enough – for every pound of rateable value by which you reduce your property from 2023 onwards, you’re going to save £1.60.”

Despite the postponement of the 2021 revaluation, the valuation office has made adjustments for the 2023 revaluation – but rates can still come down further, Webber said.

“Values have come down but haven’t come down enough…the valuation office will invariably value you as overtrading. That doesn’t get challenged enough.

“They didn’t reduce the multiplier or add in inflation but the opportunity is that the values are up for challenge.”

While any government is unlikely to abolish business rates, significant reform could be on the political agenda in the coming years.

“There’s no reason the multiplier shouldn’t be at the same level as in 1990 – 34p in the pound rather than 51p,” Webber said. “But no government can afford to give away £36bn.”