Convenience retailers have welcomed comments from the Earl of Lytton in a House of Lords debate on the government’s Check, Challenge, Appeal system for business rates appeals.
During the debate, the Earl said the processes that businesses had to go through just to access the check, challenge, appeal system were ‘excessive and intrusive’.
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Earl of Lytton said: “the CCA [check, challenge appeal] website has met with a hail of complaints: that it simply does not do what it claims, frequently crashes, is full of glitches and involves significant delays in verification of registrations, and so on. For ratepayers seeking temporary reductions for material changes in circumstances, this matters, with a real risk of injustice because of their inability to lodge a challenge within the timescale.”
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth responded that there have been challenges around the online portal for the new system and that he ‘recognised that there may be scope for further improvements’.
In the debate, Lord Bourne also announced that the Government will bring forward proposals for setting a fixed time limit for appeals, and that those proposals will be published before April next year.
The Association of Convenience Stores has previously raised concerns about the fairness of the check, challenge, appeal system, noting that while the intention of the new system to reduce speculative appeals is a positive step, there are still many genuine appeals that cannot get through the system due to its complex nature.
Retailers have suggested that the planned changes to the appeals process could leave businesses out of pocket even when their appeals are successful.