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  • Writer's pictureRuori McMahon

Is now the right time to invest in green energy to reduce your business rates?

Peter Foley is our resident guru here at CPA, and has been passionately following the shifting world of business rates for many years. With a keen political insight, Peter’s writing reveals how policy change is key to understanding your business rates further, and how this could translate into substantial savings. In his weekly column, Peter also outlines a desired path forward, with changes we’d like to see implemented for a fairer system on the nation's business rates.

The new Rating List of 2023 will assume that the fastest-growing sectors of our economy, particularly warehouses, distribution depots and industrial units, are best able to bear the pain of higher business rates, a desperately needed source of fiscal revenue. not least since our high streets are all-but taxed to death.

The sums involved are not small, with rises of between 20% and 30% predicted.

With a new Rating List around the corner, the prospects for lower bills are not good. All previous revaluations have recorded a steady rise in the tax take of non-domestic rates.

However, if your business is rated at around £15,000-£20,000, it is worth your while engaging the services of a specialist consultant, in order to drive down your rates bill, via a thorough professional survey.

Additionally, our surveyors can pinpoint discrepancies in initial valuations, which can be enough to nudge your rateable value downwards, to the area of tapered relief (£15,000RV) or full exemption(£12.000RV).

And how may these savings be re-invested in the company?

One area is in green technology, involving plant and machinery used in onsite renewable energy generation and electricity storage, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and battery storage, as well as electric vehicle charging points. It is proposed by Government that all these areas be exempt from business rates from April 2023 until 2035.

Renewable energy sources make great sense, especially when we consider the impact of increased energy bills. Unlike gas, for example, nobody has yet found a way to tax the sun's rays, the wind, or underground sources of heat.

Clearly, these are key to an affordable commercial future, and consultants are springing up with costed proposals.

Furthermore, the Government will not tax "qualifying improvements" for the first twelve months, with effect from April, 2023.

But how can we afford the initial costs?

One answer lies in lower business rates, and (until April of next year) the prospect of sizable rebates dating back to 2017.

Using the latest sophisticated datasets, and supported by professional survey reports, We undertake a "rates health check" for your business, free of charge. This is your best route to lower bills, at a moment of critical importance for commercial finances.

Come the 2023 revaluation, business rates may even increase for some of us, which is not difficult for a tax only notionally linked to rental values. And who can say with certainty what these levels are, anyway?

Government commitment to Covid-affected business has been poor , its delivery in hard cash being a world away from its stated intentions.

The failure of the Covid Additional Relief Fund (CARF) to reach businesses desperate for financial help vividly illustrates the need for businesses to engage the services of experienced ,professionally-qualified specialist advisors.

Wherever national and local government interacts, in the supposed disbursement of funds, the potential exists for delay, obfuscation, and mutual recriminations. Put simply, the inexperience of the appellant business is (cynically?) exploited, not to mention the expensive hours of effort expended on a fruitless chase for funds required rapidly.

As the impact of yet another economic crisis emerges, there has been some media talk that business rates will be reduced- as if by magic.

How many times in your personal lives your difficulties have in fact been compounded by that infernal optimist, stating blithely that your problems are simply not as bad as all that, no need to worry, etcetera, etcetera?

Why would central government reduce business rates, at a time when revenue is all-important to the Treasury, and above all, when council tax, that other financial lifeline for locally-delivered services, is at breaking point? Business rates will continue to be a mainstay of fiscal policy, if only because non-domestic properties have a devil of a job hiding from public view.

We, view the limited time before the new Rating List, as an opportunity for businesses to conduct a detailed audit of their rates, before the dust-storm created by arguments over new criteria for reliefs, etcetera, come April, 2023.

Sent now, your formal appeal still enjoys the prospect of rebates dating back to 2017, together with a solidly-grounded rates base for the future.

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