Businesses warned regarding rates con

THURROCK Council’s Trading Standards are warning businesses to beware of so-called “reduction” companies which offer to help reduce business rates by appealing against valuations.

Local councils collect business rates on behalf of central government and businesses are re-valued every five years with new rates applied.

Reduction companies offer to appeal the valuations with promises that rates will be reduced, often in exchange for large fees.

Thurrock Council’s portfolio holder for Public Protection, Councillor Angie Gaywood, said: “Our advice for businesses is 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.”

Details of the appeals procedure are included in the revaluation notification and in the notes accompanying the rates bill from the local authority.

Information and advice is also available from the local valuation office or online at www.voa.gov.uk.

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

“Do not agree to anything until you have fully read the terms and conditions, once you’ve signed and paid you will have no automatic right to cancel.

“Always remember, if you appeal, your rates could go up as well as down. This is not made clear by the firms who contact you.”

For more advice visit the Citizens Advice website using this link http://www.adviceguide.org.uk or call 08454 04 05 06 to speak to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline for free and confidential information.

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