Written evidence submitted by the Business Centre Association (BCA) (ENT 01)

I am pleased to set out the Business Centre Association’s submission to the Public Bill Committee considering the Enterprise Bill. Our submission will focus on the clauses related to the reform of the non-domestic rates appeal system.


The Business Centre Association (BCA) is the only UK trade association representing the flexible space sector including business centres, studios, coworking, virtual office and accommodation address providers, light industrial and workspace environments. Established in 1989, it specialises in providing support and guidance to the owners and operators of centres, while setting industry standards and encouraging a network of excellence. The BCA also provides an invaluable advice and location finder service for potential users of flexible space locations. It represents more than 1000 BCA member locations.

Throughout the UK, there is more than 60,000,000 sq ft of flexible space, ranging from small independent to large international operators, both in city centre and out of town business park locations. The UK’s serviced flexible office sector is a £1.2 billion industry, accounting for roughly

32 per cent of the £3.8 billion serviced office market worldwide.


Provisions within the Enterprise Bill are causing Business Centre Association members and their customers some concern, as outlined below.

Clauses 25 and 26 of the Bill make provision for changes to the system associated with challenging a rateable value (RV) assessment. The Bill will facilitate the introduction of a complicated and cumbersome three-stage "Check, Challenge and Appeal" process as well as the imposition of a new civil financial penalty upon individuals "who knowingly, recklessly or carelessly provides false information" during the challenge process.

We believe this Bill will make the system of checking and challenging an RV assessment more complicated and onerous on businesses, whilst failing to tackle the fundamental problem of the lack of transparency in the system. Currently, businesses who wish to request the evidence underpinning the assessment of the RV of their property have to appeal to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which is a bureaucratic and time consuming process. The VOA are still processing the backlog of appeals from the 2010 revaluation process.

The Enterprise Bill represents the perfect opportunity to introduce measures to make the whole process of understanding an RV assessment far more transparent. By amending the Bill to require the VOA to outline their evidence base for RV assessments up front, the Government would increase transparency thereby providing businesses with greater understanding of the process, reducing confusion and substantially cutting the number of unnecessary challenges lodged after the next revaluation.

The BCA, along with other stakeholder groups, and the Government want to see a significant reduction in the amount of appeals within the Business Rates system. However, we believe the best way to achieve this is through an open and transparent system that provides businesses with access to information as early as possible in the process, rather than a system which dissuades appeals through opaqueness and complexity.

We welcome the opportunity to engage with members of committee on this subject in due course.

February 2016


Prepared 10th February 2016