A fairer deal on business rates. UKWA are representing the industry

Business rates might sound like a dry topic, but this tax affects every warehouse-keeper in the UK, which is why UKWA was so keen to represent members’ views in the latest Government consultation.

In recent years, commentators including the Institute for Fiscal Studies have suggested that expensive business rates are crippling High Street retail. The pandemic has amplified this concern and big questions still remain about the potential to reform business rates.

Other sectors – notably retailers – are in favour of shifting costs away from retail properties, onto logistics properties, to reflect the trend for online sales. But we believe many 3PLs operating on tight margins will not have contractual arrangements in place to recover these costs. With the support of our Advisory Board on Property, UKWA has submitted a consultation response highlighting key concerns for our sector.

In particular, a significant fall in rateable values of retail and office space could put upwards pressure on the calculation formula for industrial and logistics premises, driving our rates bills up. In addition, we have pointed out the unfairness of the valuation date selected by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency: 1st April 2021. Exceptional market conditions have pushed warehouse rents up and this could prompt above-average rateable value increases for warehouses in the next Rating List.

A welcome suggestion from the Government is the proposal for more frequent revaluations, from 5 yearly to 3 yearly. As contractual agreements for warehousing are often relatively short, shorter intervals between revaluations will help warehouse operators to factor the cost of business rates into their pricing more accurately. However, in our submission, UKWA has warned that if these reforms represent covert steps towards self-assessment, that would create a huge additional burden for the industry, which we would strenuously resist.

Further, we have called for any new system for declarations to be accessible through a reliable, userfriendly interface, with a portal that includes a summary of previous reports. Based on feedback from our members, we know how important it is, for the Valuation Office Agency to be properly funded and resourced, so they can properly support the introduction of these proposed reforms and deal with appeals promptly and fairly. Although the latest consultation addresses one specific aspect of the overall policy, it forms part of a wider appraisal of the system: the Fundamental Review of Business Rates, with Government due to publish its final report in the Autumn Statement later this year.

Following that announcement, UKWA members can rely on us to clarify the implications for warehousing. UKWA represents the interests of our members and is proud to provide a voice for the wider warehousing and logistics industry. We welcome your contributions on this issue and other policy matters affecting our sector.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with your views!

A fairer deal on business rates UKWA are representing the industry

Clare Bottle