FlexSA Calls for Business Rates Meeting with Secretary of State

The Flexible Space Association has called for a meeting with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, to discuss the move by a number of local authorities to stop assessing individual serviced offices for business rates, and instead assess the overall workspace as a single large unit. This would result in Small Business Rates Relief and Empty Rates Relief no longer being applicable to them.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has indicated their support for this approach, and stated that they have a statutory duty to backdate charges to April 2017. Following a meeting with a number of ratings agencies last week, including FlexSA members Gerald Eve and Colliers, the VOA agreed to pause on implementing this to allow for some further consideration, but it is only a pause as things stand.

In England and Wales, the nations covered by the VOA, there are over 5,000 flexible workspaces. This is currently a growing sector, with workspace operators opening new locations to meet the demand that new ways of working, particularly hybrid working, are bringing. There is a real risk that if this new approach to business rates is adopted, and there is a backdating of payments, it could result in this investment ending, and long-standing businesses struggling to survive.

Flexible workspaces provide a home to business of all sizes, but are particularly well-suited to SMEs. They are able to easily take on office space that is ready to move into, with all the ancillary services needed – including reception staff, kitchen facilities and meeting rooms. Flexible workspace also offers the flexibility that traditional leased offices don’t, in enabling the size of the workspaces used to grow with the business, and offer opportunities to build relationships with other businesses located there.

The flexible workspace sector plays a key role in supporting the UK economy through its provision of services for thousands of businesses, and this support is needed more than ever in these challenging economic times.

The Flexible Space Association’s HQ is in Grant Shapps’ constituency, and a request has been made for a meeting at a member company’s business centre locally.

5 December 2022

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