The 2017 Business Rates Revaluation is inescapable. Whether you think you will be affected by it, it is now dominating the headlines. Much of the focus has been on the impact on businesses, and high street retailers, especially. But for many schools, the threat of rates rises can have serious implications for budgets and, therefore, future performance.
The Likely Impact
Estimates suggest that the total rates bill for schools could rise to £131m by 2021, from its current level of around £791m.
“These figures suggest an average increase of about 17% but for individual schools in certain areas the figure could be much higher, as much as 40%”, comments Paul Giness, business rates expert at The Beattie Partnership. “Naturally, some schools are alarmed at what this might mean for future budgeting.”
The government has countered this with a suggestion that state schools overall will see a 2% fall in rates.
Paul cautions against getting sucked into the more sensationalist headline news, but at the same time, he recognises that there is a huge amount of uncertainty around the impact of the 2017 rates revaluation, and what its implications will be, in practical terms.
“Business rates are now more of a battleground than ever before and, at present, schools are looking at claims and counter-claims in the media, while facing the reality of their new rates from April of 2017″
A War of Attrition
Much of the worry around rates increases seems to come from how they will add to other financial pressures which are coming to bear on schools. These include ongoing staff insurance contributions and pension costs.
“Many schools feel like they are fighting a war of attrition when it comes to resources and funding,” Paul says. “For many of those schools who have made much-needed improvements since the last rates revaluation, they will now feel they are being penalised if they experience a rates-hike.”
What Should You Do Now?
With the new rates coming into force following publication of the draft rateable values, what actions will potentially help schools?
“The draft list will have already provided an idea of what to expect,” Paul concludes. “Next, it’s important for schools to gather the necessary information to support their case, should they wish to appeal. Check the details carefully and be thorough: anything that supports the case for looking at a school’s rateable value again can be of huge value.”
To gain a stronger understanding of how the new business rates will financially impact you, please call The Beattie Partnership on 0161 228 2224 or visit bepart.co.uk.