Business Rates rethink – a sector success

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has finally accepted the use of Receipts and Expenditure (R&E) method to calculate business rates for all types of museums in England and Wales, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds across the sector.

The VOA change in policy means that the vast majority of museums will now be valued using the R&E method – based on a museum’s activity and financial position – rather than many in the sector being penalised for occupying the large spaces, often expensive to operate and maintain, that are needed to care for and display collections and to welcome communities.

Responding to the news, AIM Director Lisa Ollerhead said

“After years of lobbying by AIM, NMDC and other sector bodies it’s an enormous pleasure to see this change in approach from the VOA which recognises that museums are special places and more than just the bricks and mortar of the buildings. This should free up a significant amount of money across the sector for years to come.

Particularly I want to thank ratings agent Colin Hunter who acted for museums in several of the key tribunal cases and has supported AIM members for many years.”

Museums urged to lodge 2017 appeals before 31st March deadline

It should be noted however, that the change in the VOA’s policy will not be retrospectively or automatically applied to the 2017 ratings list. This means that any museum wishing to challenge their current valuation, which could result in a significantly reduced and backdated rates bill, needs to lodge an appeal via the ‘Check, Challenge, Appeal’ process.

There is a deadline of 31st March 2023 for appeals to be registered – and the process can take some time – so all museums are urged to begin the process immediately if they haven’t already by completing the VOA’s ‘Museums Information Request form’.

To help navigate Business Rates and the appeal process AIM has produced a Guide here>>

As ever, it is advisable to take professional advice before embarking on any appeals not least as the Rateable Value can be increased if it has been under-assessed. If you are interested in finding out more, Colin Hunter of Lambert Smith Hampton has agreed to provide AIM members with a minimum of 15 minutes free consultation. You can contact Colin on 0113 245 9393 or email