The Countryside Alliance has called for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and Government Ministers to go back to the drawing board and reconsider changes to business rates, ear marked for April 2017, that could have damaging consequences for rural businesses. A number of Parliamentarians, rural businesses and local councils have also expressed concerns. Welsh MP, Glynn Davies, has stated that there could be a rural “uprising” over the planned revaluation.

 It is feared that riding schools, kennels, stud farms and vineyards will be will be particularly effected by the planned changes with the British Horse Society raising significant concerns.

 Following last year’s Budget and Autumn statement the Countryside Alliance welcomed a Government announcement that small business rate relief would be doubled from £6,000 to £12,000 from April 2017 which was claimed would raise 600,000 out of paying the tax altogether.

 Commenting on the VOA’s revaluation if business rates, Head of Policy at Countryside Alliance, Sarah Lee said:

“It is important that the positive changes announced by the Government over the past twelve months, particularly the increased threshold for rates which comes into force in April, are not undermined by the latest flawed valuations by the VOA. Under the VOA’s revaluation many rural businesses who thought they would be receiving a rate relief now face dramatic increases in their tax bills.

“Unfortunately it would appear that many of these rates decisions have been drawn up behind a desk and are blind to the realities and needs of rural businesses. This is in effect a bricks-and-mortar tax based on the size of the premises not the profitability of an individual businesses and risks hammering rural businesses if the revaluation is not handled with care.

“Far from being disadvantaged by the VOA’s revaluation, rural businesses require further support, last year’s report by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) “The local shop report” clearly highlights the immense social role of many rural businesses. We strongly advise the VOA and Government Minister’s to go back to the drawing board and reconsider what is being proposed.”