Skip To The Main Content

Small firms call for manifesto action on business rates as freedom to challenge bills stifled

New figures from the Valuation Office Agency show that a new business rates appeal platform has caused the number of firms registering a challenge to their bill to fall by 94% across England.  

The Check, Challenge, Appeal (CCA) system was established in April 2017 to coincide with the most recent business rates revaluation. Following its installation, 12,580 firms now have outstanding challenges to their rates bills registered, compared to 209,140 at the same point after the 2010 revaluation.


The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling on all political parties to commit to radical reform of the £25 billion rates system through:

  • Wider roll-out and permanent implementation of the Retail Discount, which allows small retailers with rateable values of up to £51,000 to claim a 33% discount on their rates bills.
  • An increase in the 100% Small Business Rates Relief ceiling from £12,000. The threshold has remained largely static in recent years, despite the Rateable Values that determine rates bills surging in many parts of the country, particularly on high streets in large towns and cities.  
  • Fundamentally reforming CCA and removing a quirk in the rates system that causes small firms to lose relief if they expand to another premises, thereby disincentivising growth.  

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “The business rates tax is a product of a bygone era. This busted flush penalises independent high street businesses to the tune of billions every year before they’ve made their first pound in turnover, let alone profit.

“As manifestos are drawn-up, we need to see politicians getting back to the business of addressing domestic challenges. From tax reform, to our late payment crisis, to spiralling employment costs, we’ve seen barriers to growth here at home hugely neglected over the past three years.

“The Check, Challenge, Appeal platform has proven to be a total nightmare. Small firms simply don’t have the time or money to take on the herculean task of challenging their business rates bill through this massively bureaucratic and confusing system.  

“Not only are they spending hours trying to navigate the system to bring together a case, they risk financial penalties if they challenge their bills unsuccessfully. In its efforts to deter spurious claims, CCA is stymying those that have a legitimate case.


“Some small businesses are being mistakenly driven into the arms of cowboy firms promising magically lower bills, while others tell us that they’re more likely to challenge their rates bills by picking up the phone to their local authority rather than use the CCA system that was built for this purpose – a telling indictment.”