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Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Volume 503: debated on Monday 11 January 2010

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reason the Valuation Office Agency (a) has removed all waterfront hereditaments in ports in Hull from the new business rates rating assessment regime and restored them to the competent harbour authorities assessment regime and (b) has not taken a similar approach in other ports. (308639)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 12 November 2009, Official Report, column 877W.

The reason that some separately assessed property within the port of Hull has been merged with the assessment for the statutory port is that new information has been provided and there has been agreement of the facts between the parties. This reflects the success of the “fast-track” appeals process applied by the Valuation Office Agency to cases involving a significant and unexpected backdated liability. Where ratepayers co-operate and provide the information requested, the agency has been able to review the rating lists and make amendments to reflect new information that has a material affect on the assessment.

The same approach has been applied at other ports. Where changes have not been made and properties continue to be separately assessed for business rates this is either because the facts do not support the case for change or the parties have not agreed the facts that may still prove material.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the appeals against decisions relating to the new business rates arrangements for ports businesses (a) have and (b) have not resulted in a reduction in rateable values. (308805)

Following the review of ports by the Valuation Office Agency—which was undertaken to ensure that all individual business properties within and outside ports are rated fairly to ensure that the burden of contributions to funding local government is shared fairly among businesses around the country—a total of 232 appeals on properties within ports in England had been settled at 16 December 2009. Of these, 70 were resolved by a reduction in rateable value and 162 were resolved without a reduction in rateable value.