It has been reported by HM Treasury that government will legislate against appeals citing COVID-19 as a material change in circumstances (MCC).
In essence an MCC appeal can be lodged where there has been physical change to a property or in the locality affecting its value, therefore regard can be had to these factors and a reduction sought.
Instead of allowing occupiers and owners to challenge their rateable value on the basis that the restrictions imposed by the Government to combat COVID-19 has had an effect on how they occupy their premises during the pandemic, the government will instead provide a £1.5 billion support package for businesses missing out on the retail, leisure and hospitality COVID-19 rates relief. The decision on who will receive this money will be left with the local authorities with further guidance to be issued in due course.
Over the last 12 months we have been advising our clients to lodge appeals seeking a reduction due to the effect of COVID-19 and have been undertaking this on their behalf. Initially the Valuation Office Agency had accepted these appeals as valid grounds for seeking a reduction. We are therefore deeply disappointed by this announcement that our clients will be unable to exercise their statutory right to challenge their rateable value due to the pandemic.
At present there is little detail surrounding the proposals by government and as more is revealed we will advise our clients accordingly when we have more information regarding the implications and next steps to potentially obtaining this support. As ever, the devil will be in the detail. If you have any concerns surrounding your rate liabilities please contact us for advice.