Trading Standards in Bristol and South Gloucestershire have warned of  'reduction' firms who are conning local businesses. In exchange for large fees, businesses are led to believe they will get their business rates reduced on appeal.

Local authorities are required to collect business rates on behalf of central government. Businesses are revalued and new rates are applied every 3 years.

Every 3 years, when the new rates are applied to business premises, we get complaints about rogue firms who deliberately target businesses whose rates have increased. They charge fees of around £500 to make an appeal against the revaluation.

Our advice to businesses is to say no to firms who cold call offering to do a rating appeal. Their contracts are often carefully worded and don't match up to verbal promises the salesperson makes. Once you've signed and paid you will have no automatic right to cancel.

Get advice from the Valuation Office before you agree to anything. Details of the appeals procedure are included in the revaluation notification and in the  notes accompanying the rates bill from the local authority. You can also find details on the Valuation Office Agency website. But remember, if you appeal your rates could go up as well as down.

Our advice is for businesses to be very cautious of claims from companies that say they can secure big reductions in business rates. Ask for written confirmation of such claims and if the company refuses, stay well clear.

Always be suspicious if asked to pay large sums of money up front, especially for something that you can actually instigate yourself.

Contact us for more information.

Contact information

Trading Standards

Tel: 0808 223 1133