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Consultation on disclosure: sharing information on business rate valuations

This response has been agreed by Lead Members of the LGA Resources Board.

About the Local Government Association

  • The Local Government Association (LGA) is here to support, promote and improve local government. We will fight local government's corner and support councils through challenging times by making the case for greater devolution, helping councils tackle their challenges and assisting them to deliver better value for money services.
  • This response has been agreed by Lead Members of the LGA Resources Board.

Chapter 2 questions

Question 1: Did you know the Find Your Business Rates online tools mentioned at 2.13 and shown at figure 1 existed? Yes/No

If yes, have you used the tools to:

  • see how a/your rateable value is calculated (Yes/No)
  • access valuation schemes details (Yes/No)
  • compare properties (Yes/No)

Although this question is addressed to individual ratepayers, LGA officers have been able to access the tool for the purposes described.

Question 2: In what ways does the information on Find Your Business Rates help you understand if the rateable value is fairly assessed? What specifically is helpful or what specifically could be improved?

For properties assessed using rental values, the tool shows the areas assessed and the pounds per square metre rate used in each case.  There may also be a link to the relevant valuation scheme.  However there is no explanation of how particular values per square metre are arrived at and no explanation as to why values might have changed between valuations. 

Question 3: Examples A and B in figure 2 show tables of similar or comparable properties, with the same adopted base rate. Would information like this help you understand if the rateable value is fairly assessed? What specifically is helpful or what specifically would improve the information?

Examples A and B show how particular rateable values have been arrived at where only the area differs and the adopted base rate is the same.  They do not show how the base rate has been arrived at.

Chapter 3 questions

Question 4: Figure 3 shows examples with more specific details on other properties, including adjusted annual rents, which have been used to determine the adopted value/ £ per m2. Would information like this help you understand if the rateable value is fairly assessed? What specifically is helpful or what specifically could/would improve the information?

The examples in figure 3 show annual rents for comparable properties and thus would assist in transparency in that they show the rents taken into account for each valuation scheme.  However, they may not help with understanding how you get from headline rents to adjusted rents.

Question 5: What are your views around the examples at figure 4 regarding properties valued under a national scheme?

There is much less transparency about national schemes.  Apart from schools, local authorities are likely to be particularly concerned with use classes such as sports centres, libraries, and museums and galleries, care homes, leisure centres, fire stations, waste disposal, and cemeteries and crematoria. For these classes there is currently little beyond the valuation on the open website, with no explanation of why valuations have changed between revaluations, although the valuation scheme itself is available as part of the Rating Manual.  The manual is complex and is likely to be used more by rating agents than by local authority staff.

We understand that currently further information, for example, identifying how the factors in a national scheme have been applied in an individual case, would be available at the ‘check’ stage and it is that information which is contained in the examples in this chapter.  As checks are being abolished from the 2026 list it would be necessary for the information currently supplied through checks to be available through the VOA as part of the process under discussion.

Chapter 4 questions

Question 6: When it comes to business rates valuations what specific information do you consider to be sensitive or commercially sensitive and why?

Ratepayers will be able to answer this question.  We would expect information on turnover to be commercially sensitive.  We also understand that landlords as well as tenants may also consider rental information to be commercially sensitive.  This could be the case when, for example, a local authority landlord offers a special rent in the context of a regeneration scheme.

Question 7: Do you have any specific data sharing concerns as a result of understanding the disclosure and transparency proposal set out in more detail in this consultation?

We do not have any specific data sharing concerns as long as the law is complied with.

Question 8: What, if anything, specifically concerns you about the risk of onward data sharing – where data might be put into the wider public domain by others?

Ratepayers will be best placed to answer this question. Councils are subject to freedom of information legislation and through that may already put some business rates data in the public domain.

Question 9: Which of these is more important to you and why? (a) Having more information about the underlying evidence used to assess a/your rateable value (b) protecting data from disclosure (and wider disclosure)? and Question 10: Do you have any views about how best to balance providing greater transparency with the concerns on disclosure?

Ratepayers will be best placed to answer these questions.

Question 11: Are there any other views not covered in previous answers that you’d like to share about the transparency/disclosure proposal?



Mike Heiser

Senior Adviser (Finance)

Email: [email protected]