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Can the Check, Challenge, Appeal process be quicker in cases of hardship?

The Valuation Office Agency have made some courageous statements to the Select Committee regarding their response to a ratepayer whom declares he is facing hardship.

My own experience is that it has made practically no difference, however, since viewing this testimony before the Treasury Select Committee on 10 July 2019 by Melissa Tatton, Chief Executive Officer, Valuation Office Agency, and Alan Colston, Chief Valuer, Valuation Office Agency, my view is changing. There are some useful promises made which the Ratepayer should have no hesitation in quoting when they believe they (or their client) is experiencing hardship.

Testimony of Alan Colston VO on 10 July 2019

Transcript: 

Alan Colston: There is already a process for those suffering financial hardship, which we prioritise. If a particular business is suffering financial hardship and thinks its rateable value is wrong, it needs to let us know about that. 

Q471       Chair: What do they need to tell you? 

Alan Colston: Just literally what I have just said: that they are suffering financial hardship.  

Q472       Chair: Do you ask them for bank statements, directors’ earnings, what people are taking home or the number of employees being fired? 

Alan Colston: No.  

Chair: Really? 

Alan Colston: No.

Chair: A business is just going to contact you and say, “I’m in financial hardship. My rates bill is proving to be impossible to pay. Can you please accelerate?” 

Alan Colston: And we will.  

It is my recommendation that if you are suffering hardship and you have an active Check outstanding with the VOA, you should contact the VOA through your portal and state the following: –

I, the ratepayer, am experiencing hardship and I have a “Check” outstanding within the CCA system. I would like you to accept this notification as my formal notice that I am experiencing hardship and in accordance with the testimony of Alan Colston and Melissa Tatton given to the Treasury Select Committee on 19 July 2019, I would like you to accelerate my case and make contact with me.

As a matter of course, I would recommend you send a copy by post to Mr Colston, reminding him of the VOA’s undertaking to Parliament. His email address is – alan.colston@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Further information concerning the testimony can be found on the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s website here