Let's face it, especially in the current climate you've probably considered a few different ways that you could cut down on business costs.
While investing time and money in making big changes to company structure could save you money down the line, you might first want to consider areas where your existing business model is costing you more money than it should.
Enter business rates. For many businesses, it's the fourth highest outgoing, and as a tax, it's also the most controversial.
Each year thousands of businesses unknowingly overpay on their business rates but when it comes to challenging them, the buck stops at a rejected CCA (Check, Challenge, Appeal).
By only exploring one avenue for reduction, your effectively playing the game with half a hand! The biggest savings come from data-driven appeals, using comparable evidence. Here's what you can do to collect the data that will make the most of your appeal.
Know your appeals.
Do you know the difference between a CCA and a tone appeal? Have you looked into historic EPR or appealed to split up/merge your properties? Not sure what a section 44a could mean for your business rates? Contrary to popular belief, there's more than one avenue to appeal business rates. You need to be able to identify the areas in which you're overpaying on your business rates and collate the appropriate evidence to back up your claim.
If you've decided to use an agency to manage your business rates, make sure they offer a comprehensive service; preferably you want to look for those that are RICS regulated. On average we identify three separate appeals we can lodge for our clients simultaneously, even for clients that have had appeals rejected in the past.
Conduct local research.
For a number of different possible appeals, comparable evidence from local businesses can make all the difference in securing a business rates reduction. Even researching competitors at a national level can make a huge difference!
And it's not just about knowing what other businesses pay, but recording a breakdown of how they pay it. It would also help to have historical data too, to compare against your own.
Having data to select from will give you the foundations a strong appeal needs. But it's also about selecting the correct data to present, tailored to your business rates appeal.
Once you've done your research, it may be worth consulting with a professional to work out the applicable data for your appeal. For example, we can take your research and compare it against over 2 million business rates liable properties in the UK, and then focus on comparable evidence from our 2,000-strong client base. We may find evidence for appeals you hadn't yet considered and can offer advice on how best to proceed.
Use available resources to collect up-to-date information.
Business rates aren't black and white (as much as we'd love them to be!) and rejected cases may become more viable when topical evidence is used. This is because many cases are dependent on the success of a recent, comparable appeal. So if successful appeals are being made every day, you can imagine how that could change the breakdown of your business rates bill in real-time!
The VOA give out useful, workable business rates information regularly through their website and newsletter, and here at Commercial Property Advisors, we strive to keep our content on social media and our own website as current and relevant as possible. You'll also find business rates stories feature in the news from time to time, so be sure to check out the financial section in whatever tabloid you prefer to read.
Finally, when in doubt, just ask! As business rates appeals are accepted on a case-by-case basis, it helps to have information, data, and advice specific to your appeal.