As INCA members will know, the Chancellor announced in his 2016 Autumn Statement that there was to be a moratorium on business rates on new fibre built and lit from April 1st 2017 for 5 years - til 2022. In Scotland this is in the process of being extended for 10 years.
In England and Wales this resulted in two pieces of legislation:
- The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Act 2018. This Act modifies the Local Government Finance Act 1988
- There is also an accompanying statutory instrument: The Non-Domestic Rating (Telecommunications Infrastructure Relief) (England) Regulations 2018. This statutory instrument stipulates the process to determine the apportionment of new fibre which meets the statutory hurdle to gain the relief compared with the previous assessment, and the mechanism for calculating the reduction from the historic rates assessment to gain the relief. A certificate is issued by the VOA to the operator for presenting to the appropriate billing authority to get the relief.
Rates expert Aidan Paul has pointed out that "In a nutshell, this is NOT an automatic process, as a number of INCA members may assume. If members think they are entitled to relief and do not initiate the process, they are leaving themselves open to a possible nasty shock in a few years time when a rates assessment lands on the proverbial doormat. Given that the appeals process can take up to 10 years the benefit of the relief may be lost."
We would urge members to initiate the process with the relevant Valuation Office Agency branch, and have a draft letter available to initiate this process. If you have any questions, please email and we will see what we can do to help.