The process of determining rateable values for rural businesses is flawed and has resulted in completely unjustified rates bills for auction marts, industry leader Chris Dodds said.
Mr Dodds, who is the executive secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association, confirmed that the group was continuing to discuss the situation with the Valuations Office Agency (VOA).
“Some of the proposed re-evaluation figures are particularly high with some looking to be unjustified completely,” Mr Dodds said. “We are trying to get the VOA to understand the situation of markets, the stock number declines in past years and everything that goes into a rateable value that these figures are based on. Hopefully we can get the VOA to acknowledge and accept the basis on which they are basing their assessments are not true of market conditions.”
He added: “We are going to continue to provide documentary evidence to show their assessments are flawed. We have seen stock prices increase dramatically in the last decade but an increase in value doesn’t always equate to an increase in profits.”
Baroness Anne McIntosh, the former MP for Thirsk and Malton, expressed her frustration at the rate rises, saying: “It is very difficult to justify at such short notice when it (the re-evaluation) was sold to Parliament as a way of equalising the balance between rural and urban areas.”
A VOA spokesperson said: “Rateable values are based on an open market rental value on a fixed date - for this revaluation it’s 1 April 2015. If those open market values have changed, then rateable values will change with them. However, if a ratepayer believes the details we hold are incorrect then they can contact us with suggested amends. From 1 April they will have the option of formally challenging the valuation.”
Almost all local marts face higher rates bills.
Leyburn’s rateable value rose from £24,500 to £47,000; Skipton from £94,000 to £250,000; Pateley Bridge from £2,450 to £4,500; Thirsk from £115,000 to £190,000, and Northallerton from £55,000 to £135,000.