Almost 7,500 pubs are still waiting to appeal their 2010 business rates, costing the industry an estimated £7m each year. That’s according to data exclusively revealed to the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, sister title to M&C Report, by business rates firm CVS with figures from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). CVS believes there are 7,439 pubs with an RV of over £20,000 with an outstanding appeal in the 2010 rating list and blamed the backlog on the inefficiency of the VOA. “At the moment, businesses need all the revenue they can get and the VOA’s inefficiency is penalising companies unfairly and preventing those companies from recovering money that is rightfully theirs,” said National head of rating at CVS Don Baker. “It is just not acceptable that businesses have to wait years for their business rate appeal to be settled. Every day the appeals backlog continues to grow and the delays are harming businesses’ ability to invest and contribute to local economic growth.” Matthew Mooney of the Duke of Portland in Cheshire has just started the appeal for his pub but is not hopeful of a quick result after it took 18 months to secure a £35,000 rebate at his restaurant Belle Epoque in Knutsford, Cheshire. “Even once the appeal had been accepted, I had to wait another three months to get the money back. It’s several months that I’m sure they would not wait for me to pay them the money to collect my bins.” Edward Lockward of the Red Lion in Icklingham, Suffolk, said it took him nearly one and a half years to complete his appeal. “I filed the paperwork on 1 April 2010 and I received the results about a month ago,” he said. “It took ages to go through to the Valuation Tribunal. Nothing was given to me to say why, nor how many appeals were going through or how long it would take.” Lockward had an RV at £19,000, which increased from £13,500 in 2005, and he managed to get a reduction of £4,000. However Fleurets’ head of ratings Michael Yass said the VOA system had improved and licensees could help efficiency by ensuring they have exact trading details available. “The VOA is more amenable to discuss appeals where all the information they need is available. And in particular cases of hardship, the VOA can be very understanding. With the new, stricter deadlines, the VOA, the ratings agent and the licensee has to meet the target dates or else the case could be struck off. "So I would urge licensees to make sure that they have all trading details to hand at the outset instead of saying, ‘I earn about this much every week’.” A spokesman for the VOA said: “This is not the result of VOA inefficiency. Taxpayers are perfectly entitled to appeal their rateable value and the overall number of appeals received during the year inevitably has an impact, but this is a top priority for us so we are recruiting additional staff and have transferred existing staff to focus on clearing appeals.” The news comes as it was estimated businesses will have to pay an additional £1.35bn in business rates next year as a consequence of September’s 5.6% increase in RPI — the biggest annual jump in rates bills for over 20 years.

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