Since I last wrote to update you as Institute President, I am pleased to say meetings and involvement on key issues affecting the profession and the Institute seems to be increasing – not that it had been a quiet start to the year with all the goings on with business rate appeals, the issue of how to best support businesses with restart grants and business rates relief, the work being undertaken by IRRV Council, Staff and practitioners on Breathing Space and the statutory debt repayment plan.
As you may be aware the IRRV was concerned with HMT and DWP’s interpretation of the legislation and guidance concerning attachments and deductions as well as the role of DWP as an ‘agent’. It is pleasing to note the seminars and updates provided by IRRV have been so well received.
As the dust settles from the announcement to remove the ability to make new material change in circumstance proposals for the impact of covid, the focus of attention is now on how to made the business rates system work for all key stakeholders. It might seem obvious to some that checks and challenges already made can just be withdrawn or ignored, but sadly that is not the case. A great deal of work will be required to ensure that these are cleared once the relevant, retrospective legislation is introduced and passed. For agents and ratepayers that means having to continue to submit challenges and possibly even appeals. The questions of course being, how long will this take to be introduced ?
The publication of the latest Valuation Office Agency statistics just highlights the extent of the problem with some 400,000 plus checks being registered in since the list came into effect and more than half of those since April 2020. The other issues is the speed at which cases that reach the challenge stage are being cleared with nearly 100,000 Challenges to the list to date and over 66,000 currently outstanding, four years into the list. Of the nearly 25,000 or so that have been resolved only around half have been “agreed”. I always recall the position put concerning the old appeal system that some 70% of 2010 cases being cleared with no list alteration, but the new approach has not taken us much further forward and it seems more are seeing a reduction in assessment.
The work of the Institute continues on seeking to identify solutions to the issues with business rates system. The Fundamental Review of Business Rates has focused the attention of both the Valuation and Local Taxation Faculty Boards. More work is needed to take this matter forward and find workable solutions.
At the end of April the IRRV Council met and we continue to focus on ensuring the Institute continues to offer, to its members, the advice and support that they need. We are also mindful of the support needed and the impact on all of our students and members undertaking training, apprenticeships and examinations. The Governance Board for Apprenticeships’ and Council were pleased with the initial outcomes of a recent inspection by Ofsted which noted ‘reasonable progress’ on our Apprenticeship programme.
IRRV Council is also keen to ensure that we provide the opportunities and events that are at the heart of the IRRV. They not only help support and share best practice but also give an opportunity for our members to meet and socialise with fellow professionals. A considerable amount of work is done by IRRV staff in arranging and supporting speakers for these events, but we also need your support – so please do look out for these events and where possible book a place and importantly attend. Undoubtably as we all get back to a more a ‘new norm’ there may be a number of meetings or events that interest you. Its worth remembering that income from such events is essential to support the work of the Institute.
I was extremely pleased to be able to attend two IRRV Association AGMs virtually at the end of April and congratulations go to both the Lancashire & Cheshire and East Midland Associations for putting on these meetings. It was pleasing to note that both meetings were well attended. These meetings are of course an ideal opportunity to thank those who have supported the running of Associations but also to provide updates on professional matters and the running of the Institute.
May will hopefully see further Association events and perhaps the opportunity soon to meet in person. There are also other meetings and events taking place including the Professional Bodies Liaison Group meeting which I will update on next month.
Wishing you all the best