Bid to curb business rate ‘snoopers’

Businesses are set to be given greater protection from demands by government officials to enter their premises.

Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles has published proposals to change the law so that officials from the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of HM Revenue & Customs, no longer have an automatic right of entry into businesses and homes in order to value them for council tax and business rates.

Mr Pickles said on 27 January: “I am a firm believer that we should be cutting down on the number of government snoopers who can barge into a person’s home.

“This government has clamped down on the overuse and abuse of snooping with over 300 powers of entry already being abolished.

“We are now curtailing the powers of council tax inspectors. This complements the steps we have taken to stop a council tax revaluation and terminate the tax revaluation database to protect hard-working people from unwanted tax rises.”

Under the plans, if Valuation Office Agency officials have been unable to gain access to a property with the owner’s consent they would have to seek permission from a judicial tribunal. If the home or business owner still refuses entry, they may then be subject to a fine.

A consultation on the proposals will run until 20 February.

Link: Consultation documents