April's a pretty convenient time of year to start a weekly column offering cost-cutting pearls of wisdom, because the new tax year has kicked in and that usually means the cost of bills increase. A higher Climate Change Levy, for example, will nudge up energy bills; Landfill Tax will make commercial rubbish collections more expensive and a hike in Postage is looming too. However, the biggie for many this month is the unavoidable 5.6% rise in Business Rates.
I say 'unavoidable' but there is still a glimmer of hope. I'm not talking about the Small Business Rate Relief but making an appeal against a 2010 (to 2015) Value. Too few business owners are aware that the current legislation provides ratepayers a right to one appeal against their Rateable Value during the five-year period that a valuation covers. If successful, an appeal will result in savings of up to 25% in the rates payable for the full five years - including a rebate for any earlier overpayments. Amazingly 48% of businesses have never done this.
At Make It Cheaper, we know exactly what it's like to be a growing an SME. We practice what we preach having successfully reduced the Business Rates at the office we previously occupied. We used a specialist no-win, no-fee business rates advisor who, having inspected the property and conducted research into indicative levels of rental value, established that the Rateable Value was considerably over-assessed. An appeal was lodged against the original assessment and, following negotiations with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), the Rateable Value was reduced and resulted in a reduction in rates liability totalling £11,227 during the relatively short time we were at the property.
The first thing you should do to see where your business stands is look up your property on the VOA website. If the Rateable Value has increased substantially compared to the 2005 Value, you may want to consider an appeal. The higher the Value (particularly anything over £20,000), the more likely a no-win-no-fee property surveyor will take on your case. If you need pointing in the right direction, any of our advisors here would be more than happy to help.
To see how Make It Cheaper could save your business money, click here.