Under its fast-track arrangements for ratepayers with backdated bills, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has pledged to give an initial response to points raised in a proposal within 10 working days and a final decision within two months in all but the most complex cases. As at 4 November 2009, the VOA statistics show that they have met the fast-track timescales on 97 per cent. of proposals received.
Where the ratepayer is not in agreement with the decision, the VOA refers appeals to the independent Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) for early listing. Once a proposal is transferred to the VTE as an appeal, it is outside the fast-track system and falls into the usual appeals process.
There are currently no plans to amend the fast track process.
Under the fast-track arrangements for ratepayers with backdated bills, which it introduced on 24 November 2008, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) pledges to give an initial response to points raised about proposal within 10 working days and a final decision within two months in all but the most complex cases.
Up until 17 March 2010, 1,026 formal challenges have been subject to the fast-track arrangements, of these, 644 have been resolved and 382 are outstanding. 197 have been transmitted as appeals to the valuation tribunal following issue of the valuation officer’s considered decision. In practice, although ratepayers and their agents have been invited to support early listing dates, very few have taken this offer up.
Rates are a tax on properties capable of beneficial occupation. When one appears on the ratings list, its occupier, which may be a business, becomes liable for this tax. All properties that appear on the ratings list are similarly liable and their rates will be collected by the billing authority in the usual way. However, if for any reason, including an exemption, a property does not appear on the ratings list, it means that rates are not being collected in respect of that property.
The principles concerning separate rateability where there is ‘exclusive occupation’ and ‘paramount control’ are long established and predate the ports review as well as the end of prescribed rating. The lead case on this subject is a House of Lords decision which dates back to 1936—Westminster Council v. Southern Railway Company and W.H. Smith and Son. There was, therefore no ‘implementation’ of a new separate ratings policy either after or before 1999. In other words, any property, other than a statutory port authority, that met the separate assessment criteria, even before 1999, should have been rated separately.
The Valuation Office Agency have advised us that since May 2006, it has inspected over 800 properties (hereditaments) within 55 ports in England and Wales as part of the ports review.
Information was collected from the statutory port operators, ratepayers and through physical inspection of the property. In cases where the information supported separate assessment, the ratepayer was served a notice informing them of the assessment.
The agency does not maintain records of the number of properties within ports inspected and notified in each year since 1999. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.