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New Valuation Faculty Board Chairman Peter Scrafton hits the ground running, as the Board’s agenda gathers pace

September 2011 Insight - Faculty Board report

The Valuation Faculty Board has recently held elections for the position of Chairman, and as a result I have been elected to the role for the coming three years. On behalf of the Board and myself I wish to express sincere thanks to Roger Messenger for his excellent work as the Board’s Chairman since its inception in 2003. Graham Ryall has now taken on the role of the Board’s Vice-Chairman.

The Board has discussed at length in recent meetings the strategy for developing the valuation qualification route. IRRV Council has now approved proposals to link the qualification route with the Royal Agricultural College’s programme of courses. This is a very exciting development, as it widens the appeal of the qualification, gives it increased portability (it is European-recognised) and provides a greater choice of learning options. A two year Diploma course will be ready for the 2012 academic year, and a third year Honours level course is in development. Some modules might be available this autumn. The current in-house qualification would continue to be offered in tandem with the new route, until transition arrangements for current students were agreed.

On a related matter, it is heartening that we have a number of valuers applying for membership via the graduate/experience route – and by no means all from within rating disciplines. This makes membership accessible to those who have related qualifications and/or have proven, sufficiently wide-ranging and relevant experience in the valuation field.

Consultation on the proposed localisation of business rates in England has been published, and views are invited by 24th October. The paper sets out the government’s proposed core components for a business rates retention system. In addition, the consultation sets out how it proposes Tax Increment Financing will operate within the business rates retention system as a way of funding infrastructure investment to unlock economic growth. Also outlined is how the proposals interact with wider government initiatives to promote growth, and how they will work alongside the existing architecture of the business rates system which the government are not proposing to change – for example rate reliefs and the national business rate multiplier.

Frankly, on first reading this looks like a poor consultation, the outcomes of which will serve to overly complicate the system. Certainly at the time of writing the thirty-three questions it poses could not be answered until the eight technical papers, due to be published in August, were available to be considered. As it stands, the paper is premature, and serves to meet central government consultation criteria, without providing any real meat to chew over. We await that meat, with eagerness!

Plans for the Institute’s Annual Conference in Telford from 20th to 22nd September include a first for the valuation faculty - to run a combined valuer day programme on the 21st in conjunction with the RICS Rating Diploma Holders. The programme for the day covers matters topical, technical and thought-provoking in good measure; and it is a shame only that a wider range of subjects could not be covered to the same degree – but time is always at a premium. We are sure of some very healthy debate.

Some of you may have spotted on the VOA website ‘Lisa’, in Agent mode, that there is posted a note which states that the VOA have agreed a service protocol with the professional bodies representing rating surveyors. This covers the Service of Regulation 17 and 31 Notices And Statements Of Case.

The Dept of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland are consulting until 18th October on changes to the rating of commercial properties. The main purpose of the changes would be to ‘rebalance’ (my quotation marks) the business rates system so that during this continuing economic downturn, and through to recovery, more smaller businesses get help, while the very largest retailers pay more. Expansion of the small business rate relief scheme would be funded through applying a levy for three years to the largest/highest value retail properties. A recent similar proposal in Scotland, dubbed the ‘Tesco Tax’, was defeated at Holyrood in the run-up to the Scottish elections. I wonder if Northern Ireland will prove to be more receptive to the idea?

The Institute has agreed to highlight the need for a review of the rating of plant and machinery regulations. There seems to be little appetite in central government for such a review, but it is the Board’s intention, in collaboration with other interested parties, to persuade them that a review is needed, and soon. If you have examples or comments that you would like to feed into this process, then I should be very pleased to hear from you, via mail to

Peter Scrafton FIRRV FCIArb MRSA (Hon) Solicitor (Non-Practising) and Accredited Mediator is a legal and valuation consultant and member of the IRRV Council.

©J.P. Scrafton, 2011

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