The festive season is behind us and attention is turning in many local authorities to the process of annual billing – I am reminded each time I speak to colleagues in the revenues teams around the country that this is a busy time of year not only with the exercise of preparing to issue business rate and council tax demands but also advising members on the likely budget discussion for the coming year. I recall this time of year from my private practice days as well though, as teams across the firms of rate payment advisors prepare for the deluge of paper demands being sent out.
I initially thought what am I to write about, in January a quite month, the excess of Christmas has caught up with many and perhaps pay day seemed to be a long way off, but then I look back through my diary to see that actually I’ve had a number of events to attend and a growing number of commitments over the next couple of months. I just hope there wont be too many clashes with the start of the next flat season or indeed the finale of the jumps season!
I was extremely pleased to be able to attend CIOT President, Glyn Fullelove Luncheon, at the Great Hall Merchant Taylors Hall a packed room and a pre lunch drinks provided an opportunity to network with practitioners and representative from a number of organisations. During lunch I was pleased to be to meet two re-elected parliamentarians and a notable additional guest to the table was former Chancellor of the Exchequer the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke who provided me with some interesting insights on how he dealt with tax avoidance and evasion. I subsequently was pleased to hear the CIOT also raised £2,722 for its charitable causes.
The topic of avoidance and evasion remains central to the concerns of many members and will come to the fore in the lead up to the 2020 Budget on 11th March and no doubt a hot topic of discussion no doubt across many councils and indeed businesses. IRRV will be preparing a response in advance. We can expect elements to be trailed by interest and lobby groups in the press highlighting many important concerns in the weeks to come.
The cycle of meetings also stepped up toward the end of the month with a meeting of Council which discussed a number of topics including; Breathing Space implementation and a consultation on revisions to the Practice Directions for the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber). Council also considered preparations for the Spring Conference and a series of professional seminars not to mention of course progress with plans for the IRRV Conference and Performance Awards later in the year.
Meetings with other professional organisations and government are key to drawing attention to the experience and work of our members and indeed seeking to highlight how improvements can be or by shining a light on particular areas of practice. I was conscious of the work of our representatives attending updates on the digitalisation of business rates and by the time you read my letter to you meetings of the Business Rates Advisory Forum and the Professional Bodies Liaison Group will have taken place. Such opportunities to meet with follow professionals and enable a wide range of views to be shared and together I’m sure opportunities to develop or address improvements can be made to working practice.
As I close I was pleased to be able wear the insignia of the Rating and Valuation Association (RVA) at a number of events including the meeting of Council. The IRRV Presidential Chain is in a clean and brush up. RVA was incorporated in 1927 and remained in place until 1990 when we became know as the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation. I am sure some members will be able to tell me about other key milestones or indeed that I will be directed by some of our longer standing aficionados to raid the archives with the able assistance of Gary Watson and David Magor.