By Daniel Hunter

National small business organisation, the Forum of Private Business is warning that the clock is ticking for small firms who have yet to submit backdated appeals for business rates, ahead of a major shakeup next month.

From the beginning of next month, the government is changing the rules around rates appeals and limit the backdating of changes to rating assessments in England.

Any appeals received by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on or after that date, can only be backdated to 1 April 2015. This means that many small businesses could potentially lose out on up to five years of savings.

Ian Cass, at the Forum of Private Business, said: “While the measures around Small Business Rate Relief announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement have received plenty of attention, many small firms remain unaware of the planned changes in rules regarding rates appeals and limit the backdating of changes in England from the start of next month.

“This situation is nothing new and would usually happen at the end of a five year business rates cycle. The only difference is that this current cycle has been extended by two years to 2017. Despite this, it appears the government has decided that the five year rule for appeals will still be applied.

“Small firms will continue to have full legal rights to appeal their rating assessment, and the VOA will continue to fulfil its legal obligation to alter rating assessments if new information comes to light indicating a valuation is inaccurate. However, any alterations would only be backdated to 1 April 2015.

“Our advice to small firms is that If you've been thinking about appealing your rates but not done anything about it NOW is the time to act!”