Increasing business rates


Update from British Horse Society (31 March):

The BHS are still campaigning, on your behalf, to get a fair deal for riding schools and livery yards when it comes to Business Rates. In recent weeks we have;

  • Met with the CEO, Chief Valuer and Specialist Valuer of the VOA to discuss the valuation process and raise our concerns.
  • Met with Marcus Jones MP – Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) – to explain our concerns regarding the increase in Rateable Values. Whilst no promises were made the meeting was positive and concerns registered. Marcus Jones reported that he had received more letters from riding schools, concerning Business Rates, than any other business sector.
  • Held an Awareness Raising Meeting with MPs. This was attended by over 30 MPs along with riding school proprietors, and representatives from the British Horse Racing Authority, Sport and Recreation Alliance, Country Landowners Association, PLMR and World Horse Welfare.
  • Met with the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Horse to discuss the next steps for the campaign.
  • Presented to the National Equine Forum, including HRH the Princess Royal, the challenges which riding schools and livery yards are facing due to Business Rates.

In the Budget on 8 March the Chancellor announced a little good news to help small businesses;

  • Any business which qualified for Small Business Rate Relief will see their Business Rates invoice increase by no more than £50 per month.
  • Local Authorities will be awarded £300,000,000 to use as discretionary relief to support Small Businesses. This discretionary relief fund will be divided between 326 billing authorities and phased over four years.
  • An announcement was also made that the Business Rates system would be reviewed to ensure that the same anomalies, of certain businesses sectors experiencing greater rises, would be avoided at the next revaluation.

What the BHS will be doing next;

  • Submitting a response to the Government consultation on the design and implementation of the locally administered Business Rates Relief Scheme. This will ensure that riding schools and livery yards will be fairly represented and considered along with other small businesses.
  • Seeking clarification on how the £50 per month cap will be rolled out to businesses falling in the Small Business Rate Relief category.
  • Forming a Task Force across the equine and rural sectors to continue with the campaign.

What you need to do next;

  • Check, Challenge, Appeal. Check that the areas and facilities recorded by the VOA for your property are correct. If you believe these to be wrong contact the VOA. Challenge the Rateable Values which have been applied to the individual facilities on your property. You will need to have rental / valuation evidence of similar properties in your area and also put your case as to why the increases are unreasonable. If your challenge is unsuccessful you should then be prepared to Appeal. Details of the process can be found here (Opens new window)
  • Don’t forget all BHS Approved Centres have access to the Business Support helplines including the specialist rating support helpline offered by Clifford, Tee and Gale

Please help to keep the momentum going with this campaign by writing to your MP if you have not already done so. (Please scroll down to see how to do that.)

Update from British Horse Society (9 February):

“Our campaign has gained considerable momentum.

  • The BHS campaign featured on the front page of the Times. The news story is featured in many daily national papers as well as regional press. This reached over 7.8million readers and had an Advertising Value Equivalent of £34,000
  • A meeting was held with the Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, the Chief Executive, Head of Valuations and Specialist Valuer of the VOA to discuss our concerns.
  • Replies have been received from over 50 MPs who have been contacted by their constituents. If you have not contacted your MP please do this, the more MPs who are aware of the issues the stronger our voice
  • MPs have visited riding schools and livery yards in their constituencies to hear, first hand, the devastating effect that the increase in Business Rates will have
  • The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Horse are continuing to focus on Business Rates.
  • The BHS are joining with other rural businesses to increase the impact of the campaign. These include Horse Racing, Vet practices, competition venues and polo grounds
  • The BHS Business Rates Campaign has also featured in Horse and Hound

The next important milestone is an Awareness Raising Event to be held in Westminster on 1 March to which all MPs will be invited. We will also be inviting some Proprietors to speak directly to MPs.

For more information, see below and follow these links (which open new windows)

The British Horse Society is campaigning on behalf of all equestrians, contacting all proprietors, clubs and societies to raise awareness. Chris Smith, Chairman of British Carriagedriving has written to all BC members, asking them for support: read the letter from Chris Smith (Opens new window).

The Current Situation

The new rateable values for all businesses in England and Wales were published on 30 September 2016 and will come into effect on 1 April 2017.

When analysing the increase in rateable value for the individual elements of a centre, it appears that the value placed on the stables has increased disproportionately. In some cases the rateable value has increased from £150 per stable to £600 per stable.

For the two areas that affect SDHC members the increases are significant:
South East = 43% – 356%
South West = 16 – 163%

How will this affect SDHC members who are not Business Owners?

The increase in cost will have to be passed on to clients, leading to potential increases in:
• Livery bills for all those that need to rent
• Venue hire
• Training Clinic costs
• Costs to send horses for training / schooling
• Businesses closing (we really hope not!)

What can SDHC members do?

This is a very serious situation which could cause unknown harm to equestrianism
• Read the BHS documents – Briefing Note Booklet
• Write to your MP as soon as possible – see below for how to do this.
• Make others aware & encourage them to help – riders, drivers, horse-lovers! Here’s a poster to display. (Opens a new window)

How to write to your MP

Here is a template letter to send to your MP. Please personalise the letter, saying what a positive impact equestrianism has on your life, your family, your livelihood and the negative impact the increased costs would have.
To find the address for your MP, follow this link: .
More information on MPs in the south
(All links open new windows)

Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope you will act now.

Kayti Harvey

Event Organiser, South  Downs Harness Club & BHS South Region Vice Chairman