Why use a business rates company?

Business rates are currently a sore topic for many businesses both small and large. Many companies in the lower end of the sector are fighting for their lives, just to stay afloat while larger companies are disgruntled at the fact that they are going to be looking at large increases from 2017 as their premises are revalued on 2015 prices, forcing some to cease any planned expansion, while others greatly reduce their workforce.

It seems today the only way to stay off the business rates grip is to play the rating system at its own game. Companies such as Amazon do exactly this, choosing a venue well outside of any highly valued territory and reap the benefits of lower rates.

With many businesses turning to online purchasing, high street stores are already seeing their profits impacted; this along with increased business rates and a complete blanket of protection for online traders against their share of rates is seeing the once recognised retail experience of the town/city centre diminished to the struggling poor excuse of a high street that makes you wonder when the tumbleweed will pass you by!

Many businesses need to operate on the high street, they need the collaboration and unification of the public with one view on their mind and that is spending! In this new technological age the public still have this urge, yet they have found an easier, more convenient way to do it.

With businesses struggling, many ceasing to trade and larger businesses holding back on any expansion even reducing their reach on the nation, the rates allocation by the Government still needs to be met.

One could see the oxymoron that is the rating system, increase rates, and lose business, the increased rates will balance off what they will lose, or does it? Would it not be easier to lower the rates and keep the businesses? Well they are attempting this with many forms of relief, but would so many types of relief be needed if we catered for the business types in the first place.

How about spreading the cost a further afield? Why not create a new taxing system that targets businesses that trade online? These are only a few of the many issues that many want the new rateable system to take into account and the Government are urging businesses to give their input.

Instead of using the rating system to purely target the premises and location of the business why not look at a complete overhaul of rating the business in its entirety.

Until the overhaul, if any ever takes place, business owners are doing what they can to survive. One issue that faces businesses is that they are incorrectly being overcharged on their rates and even the council are unaware of their mistakes. If the council are unaware, then how would the average business owner ever find out?

The unfortunate problem in the industry. 

This problem has led to the rise of many rateable valuations companies that look at either or both a company’s current rateable valuations and investigates any historical inaccuracies imposed by their local council. The aim – to get back what is rightly owed through a rebate, reduce your current rates and leave you with a smile and money in your back pocket!

Is this the case? Well hopefully, most of the time it is, however due to a minority this market has stung so many business owners that unfortunately it is now getting a bad reputation!

Some companies are promising lower rates or a refund for historical errors, and are asking for fee’s up front, sometimes with the end result leaving companies out of pocket with no lowering of rates, no refund and sometimes even an increase in their current rates!

Some will tie businesses into lengthy contracts up to the length of the rating term, meaning they can use no one else and even have to fork out expenses for a percentage of any refund they acquire for future years.

This sector is still largely unregulated so you have all types of businesses out there, some are less clear cut about their intentions and the impact for those signing up to their services than others.

What to look for before signing a contract.

This should not deter you away from these services, as stated earlier, sometimes you just don’t know if you are being valued correctly for the property you are in. Anything from legislation change that hasn’t yet been implemented or human error that has not been spotted can have a major effect on the outcome of your business rates. Unless you know what you are looking for, (and this doesn’t mean asking the council if there is a mistake, as they made the error in the first place) then the only option you have is to put your trust in an independent company who specialises in detecting these types of errors and has your interest at heart.

There are so many companies out there, so what do you look for? Well ask yourself a few simple question first,

  • Do you need to pay anything upfront? (Why is this, if they are confident they can get you back money, then surely this can come out of what is retrieved?)
  • Are they signing you into a contract and what is the length of the terms of the contract? (Again why, if their service is as they say, then you should have the choice to work with them again)
  • Are they competitive enough, what percentage are the charging?
  • Do they have a lot of small print? What exactly are you signing?

Our advice is to read the contract in its entirety! There are businesses out there that work on a no win no fee basis and don’t tie you into any lengthy contracts. Have minimal print for you to work through and are clear from the offset as to what is expected of you and their service with a clear understanding of the fee’s that will occur upon result of a rebate by the council or a reduction in their rates.

Any company you are looking at working with should be happy to discuss any aspect of their contract with you.

Posted on: 15/01/2015