Rating Manual section 1: statutory authority and legal background

Part 5: harmonisation and interaction with other rating systems in Great Britain and Ireland

The Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) technical manual for the rating of business (non-domestic) property.

1. Introduction

The Rating system in use in England and Wales is not the only system in Great Britain and Ireland. Each country has similar but different systems:

Scotland – Non-domestic Rating and Council Tax

Northern Ireland – Non-domestic and Domestic Rating

Republic of Ireland – Non-domestic Rating

In England and Wales the responsibility for the rating lists lies with valuation officers, in Scotland this is the responsibility of the assessors who are local government employees. Each assessor is independent and not employed by a single body like the Valuation Office Agency. Co-ordination between them is made through their Scottish Assessors Association (SAA). In Northern Ireland the Commissioner for Valuation and the Land and Property Services department undertake rating valuations. In the Republic of Ireland the Commissioner for Valuation and the Irish Valuation Office undertake rating valuations.

2. Harmonisation

In October 1986 the Valuation Office and the Scottish Assessors Association set up a series of working groups under the guidance of a steering committee, to explore how the two systems could be brought closer together by seeking, where possible, commonality of procedures and valuation approaches.

By 1988, harmonisation meetings between the VOA and the SAA had been extended to Northern Ireland and the Irish Valuation Office based in Dublin.

The steering committee meets twice a year to discuss rating valuation practice and procedure, exchange good practice and discuss how rating valuation practice can be improved to the mutual benefit of the various systems.

The 2013 Joint paper on the Adjustment of Rental Transactions for Non-domestic rating valuation is a product of this process.

3. Exchange of information and the Non-domestic rating (information) Act 1996

The transfer of data to other valuation bodies is governed by the same rules of confidentiality and data security that apply to local authorities and private individuals.

The only exception is the transfer of data to the Scottish Assessors.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Information) Act 1996 provides an exception to the normal confidentiality restrictions under S.18(1) of the Commissioners of Revenue and Customs Act 2005 in respect of information held for a VO’s functions, and this falls within S.18(3), where disclosure is permitted by another enactment.

The 1996 Act allows disclosure by valuation officers or assessors to other such persons of information connected with non-domestic rating.

The act does not apply to Northern Ireland or any other jurisdictions.

Section 1 provides that:

‘(1) Where a rating official requests another rating official to disclose any information to him in order to assist him in the performance of his statutory functions, the other official shall not be prevented from so disclosing the information merely because it is held by him in connection with his statutory functions.

(2) “rating official” means a valuation officer or an assessor; and

“statutory functions” means –

in relation to a valuation officer, functions under Part III of the Local Government Finance Act 1988;…… and

in relation to an assessor, functions under the Valuation Acts as defined in section 183(1) of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994.

……’

This therefore excludes Council Tax.

Advice on the application of the provisions should be obtained from the National Specialists Unit.