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Trading standards warn of business rate scam

In the run up to the announcement by the Valuation Office of new business rates set to come into force in April, Haringey Council's Trading Standards have warned local businesses to be careful about companies offering to help them get their rates reduced.

In the past few years, such companies have had contracts with businesses that asked for payment of a percentage of any reduction in rateable value. However, in many cases, it seems that any savings made by businesses then are swallowed up completely by the company's bill.

Haringey Trading Standards pointed out that anyone can appeal against their business rate themselves - all you need is a form from the Valuation Office on 020 8276 2700. Businesses should also consider using an established lawyer if they can afford it but if they can't, then they should read through the proposed contract very carefully before signing anything.

Principal Trading Standards Officer, John Scale, said, "This latest five year reassessment will undoubtedly increase the rateable value for many businesses and they will naturally look for any way of reducing this cost. Our advice to local businesses is to be cautious about any offer by specialist companies to help reduce their business rates. Some of these are genuine but others will trick businesses over the subtleties of rateable value and transitional relief. These conmen are hiding among more legitimate companies and are giving the industry a bad name."

A local businessman, Pete Powell of Crescent Cars refused to pay one of these companies,  Herber Churchman, and was taken to the Small Claims Court. Mr Powell successfully argued that Herbert Churchman had misrepresented the amount of savings he could make and did not have to pay the company's bill.

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