Business rates revaluation will hit broadband infrastructure providers…and ultimately consumers

Business rates revaluation will hit broadband infrastructure providers…and ultimately consumers

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) announced last week a fourfold rise in business rates (taxes on the value of real estates) on some major infrastructure providers’ bills. The revaluation was judged “excessive” by BT, whose Bill increases from £165m to £743m per annum,  who added that the increase in rates will likely lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses. Virgin Media echoed BT’s concerns on the likely negative impact of the increase on future investment decision in telecoms infrastructure.

The previous revaluation was published in 2010 (calculated on the basis of the value of properties in 2008). In 2012, Government decided to postpone the following revaluation until 2017 to protect small businesses from “sharp changes in business rates bills” in order to encourage growth in the economy. However, the revaluation published last week will actually lead to steep increases in business rates because the strong rise of the value of properties since 2008, in particular in London and the South East.

Richard Hooper CBE, Chair of the Broadband Stakeholder Group said: “The Government and industry are clear that we want to continue to invest to support the world-class connectivity that our economy needs to succeed. This huge increase in rates on broadband networks by the VOA goes against that objective and introduces instability and risk at a time that we need it least. The Government needs to consider how to mitigate this impact and work to ensure that the whole of the public sector is working to encourage rather than deter investment”.

 

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