Walton Healthcare Property Consultants have successfully secured a substantial reduction in the Rateable Value for the nursery in Stirling and which resulted in a rates saving of £35,000 for the operator. The saving will be backdated to 1st April 2010.

Gary Walton who conducted the negotiation on behalf of Sword Ltd commented

"Having trained and worked in the Assessor's Office (the government body responsible for setting rateable values) and having in depth expertise of the nursery market spanning over 10 years, this proved vital in my negotiations with the Assessor and securing the rates saving. Our client, Mr Fowdar, is quite obviously delighted. Not only have we reduced the running costs of the nursery, but we have potentially increased the overall capital value of the property by some £50,000 due to the positive impact on bottom line profit."

In 2010, all commercial properties which included Children's day nurseries were reassessed for rates as part of the five yearly revaluations. At that time, every operator had a right of appeal - an appeal which had to be exercised within 6 months from the revaluation date 1st of April. However, it's only now many of the appeals are now being dealt with by the Assessor.

Even if an appeal wasn't lodged within the required timescale, there may be certain circumstances where an operator can still appeal. For example, if there is a sudden fall in trade as a result of material change - such as new nursery opening on the door step, or if they become a new occupier of a property. However, in most cases, a good number of operators have lost their right of appeal and will need to wait until 2015 for the next opportunity. These operators will continue to see their rates bill rising over the next 3-4 years as the rates poundage (also known as Uniform Business Rates) has been confirmed to increase annually over the same period.

For those operators who did timeously lodge appeals and the appeals have still to be discussed with Assessor, there is still hope to obtain a reduction in the rates. However, if they have not already appointed an advisor it is important that it is done before the discussions start. Believe it or not, Rating can be a very complex issue, based around valuation theory and case law.

With fee levels and occupancy levels being squeezed across the sector, it is increasingly crucial that overheads must be scrutinised and minimised. This includes rates which can range from about 2% - 5% of turnover! Even if operators have lost their right of appeal, there remain various forms of relief available to nursery businesses and, naturally, these should at least be explored.

Gary Walton concluded 'it is a good feeling when your knowledge and experience has been put to very good use and I have made a difference for a client. However, I would urge operators to appoint a suitably qualified surveyor to handle their appeals and to not forget the next time the revaluation takes place on 1st of April 2015 - please do put in the diaries'