Everything you need to know about business rate tone reductions.





Every business owner has been there, you feel your business rates are too high but have already gone round in circles trying to secure a reduction. By now, you know your way around the check-challenge-appeal process and have tried to reduce your rates both on your own, and maybe even with an agent, but all to no avail. Before you give up hope and accept your lofty rates bill for what it is, there's one more type of appeal that you should consider exploring


A tone reduction is a specialised appeal that not even all agencies look at, but one that can yield substantial results with a very quick turnaround.


As with all appeals, there's only one more year left to appeal before the new rating list so be sure to explore every opportunity before missing out on any rebates!

 

What is a Tone reduction?


Tonal reductions are less talked about in the business rates industry, so don't feel bad if you've never heard of them before! The concept for them, however, is fairly simple.


As an example, let's take your average office space. It may consist of two floors, and also have facilities such as a kitchen, toilets, storage, etc, included on the floorplan. Now, anyone that has gone through the CCA process will have looked at this data before in order and had it presented to the valuation office. Tone uses the same data as a foundation, but instead of looking for anomalies in usage and square meterage like a CCA, tone bases its reduction on the pounds per square meter you pay when compared to other properties in the same scheme as you.


Tone exists so that companies are able to keep a level playing field between themselves and their competitors. However, this only works if it's being closely monitored by the VOA, which it isn't.

Currently, the VOA has a huge backlog of cases to asses that will take them well into the next rating period. As such, not all properties will receive a fair evaluation and fail to receive overpayments that they could be due since 2017.


It's an aspect of the rating system that CPA work extensively with, as locating the reduction is largely database-centric and using our software, potential tone-reductions are already flagged on our system before we've even signed up the client.


Tone reductions exist due to other companies in your scheme getting reductions on the Price per m²/unit that they pay on space that's similar to yours. These reductions are often achieved by agents, and then have a domino effect on eligible properties. The first thing we'll do at CPA once we've found a tone reduction for our clients, is compare that to any other clients we have in the same scheme


How to build an appeal:


Tone reductions exist due to other companies in your scheme getting reductions on the Price per m²/unit that they pay on space that's similar to yours. These reductions are often achieved by agents, and then have a domino effect on eligible properties. The first thing we'll do at CPA once we've found a tone reduction for our clients is compare that to any other clients we have in the same scheme


As such, it may be worth finding out which other companies are in your scheme. Your number can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/find-business-rates


Found some local companies in the same scheme as you? Good, having these conversations with other business owners will create a stronger appeal, which can result in a higher chance of success for a more significant reduction on your business rates.


The next step is to collaborate and build your evidence together, professionally presented evidence is key to a successful appeal and it may be worth seeking advice here to make sure you're not walking into a situation where your business rates could go up! This is always a possibility, which is why CPA risk assesses every case we take on beforehand, to ensure no negative outcomes


The next part of the process is very similar to a CCA, in that your appeal may be rejected and you'll have to go back with more sufficient evidence. Be diligent and responsive with whoever you're dealing with, as this process itself can be the most time consuming if emails are left unanswered.


Most importantly, don't delay! The six-year rating list we've been in, comes to an end in 2023. Once we've moved on to the next rating list, anything you've overpaid previously will be lost. For many clients, this can mean tens-of-thousands of pounds accumulated over the full rating period.


Even if you think you've done everything you can to mitigate your business rates, it's well worth your time exploring a tone reduction. It's a service not offered by all agents either, so if you already have a rating agent, be sure to check that they've covered tone reductions as part of their service!


Still stuck? Just ask!


Business rates can be an incredibly confusing industry, which is why CPA are dedicated specialists in the sector. If you feel you're overpaying on your business rates, and want to explore a reduction, get in touch! We also offer completely free advice to those that are working on an appeal, so if you haven't found what you're looking for here, we're happy to talk you through the process over the phone or via email.


If you want CPA to manage your appeal professionally, we'll even look at any other appeals on your property that could result in a reduction. On average we found three appeals worth submitting for each of our clients. All of which we can work on simultaneously on a no-win-no-fee basis.