More good news on business rates – and 31st March deadline for 2017 appeals 22 Feb 2023
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has finally accepted the use of Receipts and Expenditure (R&E) method to calculate business rates for all types of museums in England and Wales, which will save hundreds of thousands of pounds across the sector.
This follows the announcement in September 2021, after a successful appeal by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) against valuations for three of its sites, that the VOA would no longer be using Contractor’s method to calculate business rates for many museums. However the VOA had proposed to continue the use of Contractor’s method for museums set up by statute (so including most national museums) and those occupying ‘modern’ (post-2001) buildings.
The VOA has now confirmed a change in this policy, meaning that the vast majority of museums will now be valued using R&E method. This means that business rates will be based on a museum’s activity and financial position – rather than being penalised, as a sector, for occupying the large spaces needed to care for and display collections and to welcome communities, which are often expensive to operate and maintain. The change will result in huge long-term savings across the whole museum sector.
The news is a real victory for long-term collective lobbying by AIM, NMDC and others as well as the tenacity of business rates agents, notably Colin Hunter who represented TWAM, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and York Museums Trust in their successful appeals and has been advising sector bodies for many years.
However, the change in the VOA’s policy will not be retrospectively or automatically applied to the 2017 ratings list. This means that any museum wishing to challenge their current valuation, which could result in a significantly reduced and backdated rates bill, needs to lodge an appeal via the ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ process.
There is a deadline of 31st March 2023 for appeals to be registered – and the process can take some time – so all museums are urged to begin the process immediately if they haven’t already by completing the VOA’s ‘Museums Information Request form’. More information on the appeal process is available in the AIM Success Guide.