The Mail on Sunday

How to beat the rise in your business rate

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SMALL firms are being urged to take action to offset last week’s increase in business rates.

These follow the five-yearly rating revaluatio­n of commercial property by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which assesses the hypothetic­al rental value based on the property type and location and uses this to determine the business rate a firm should pay.

But because the revaluatio­n was carried out in April 2008, near the peak of the property market and before the credit crunch really hit, many firms could be paying far more than they need to.

Thousands of small firms will no longer qualify for small business rate relief, under which bills are cut in half for firms working from commercial premises with a rateable value of less than £12,000.

Paul Guiness, a consultant for Expense Reduction Analysts in Southampto­n, which helps firms to cut operating costs, says that firms can appeal to the VOA for a reassessme­nt.

If the rateable value is correct, firms should look at making the most of the space they have, for example by sub-letting or claiming rates relief on areas that are not used. Businesses may also be able to negotiate a lower rent or a rent-free period.

In last week’s Budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling announced that businesses in commercial premises with a rateable value of £6,000 or less would pay no business rates for a year from October, while those with a rateable value of £12,000 or less would receive a discount on their bill.

Firms can compare their rating valuation with that of other properties at voa.gov.uk.

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