Part 2: Draft Valuation (Proposals Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2022
16. The draft Valuation (Proposals Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2022 ("The Proposals Regulations 2022") set out the procedures for proposals made under section 3ZA of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1975 ("the 1975 Act"). This system will be in place from 1 January 2023.
17. The proposal stage introduced under the newly inserted provisions in the 1975 Act will precede the appeals stage, and will be a required step before being able to lodge an appeal in the circumstances set out in the Act where bringing an appeal is permitted (e.g. it will not be possible to lodge an appeal where the assessor changes the rateable value in accordance with the proposal). The vast majority of appeals currently are settled amicably between the assessor and the appellant. Further, it is the date of the hearing, and therefore the citation of a hearing (which must be at least 105 days before the hearing date) which triggers statutory information-sharing requirements for both parties. This suggests that there may be a better way to trigger information-sharing and the new stage is aimed at encouraging a settlement between the Assessor and the proposer prior to the need for involvement by the First-tier Tribunal in future.
18. The draft regulations set out the requirements as to the form of a proposal, the information to be included with the proposal, as well as the procedures which must be followed thereafter including the information to be exchanged between the two parties (proposer and assessor) before the date on which a proposal is determined. After a proposal is lodged, the assessor issues a "Proposal Determination Date" (PDD). This is the final date by which the assessor intends to issue a decision on a proposal. If the assessor does not issue a decision on or before that date, chooses not to alter the entry; or alters it in a manner different to that requested in the proposal, or subsequently agreed with the proposer, then the proposer will have the right to make an appeal to the Scottish Tribunals within prescribed timescales.
19. The Appeals sub-group had discussed two scenarios in relation to sharing information, however neither of these required that any substantive information be provided at the point of lodging a proposal and the group was not in unanimous support of either. Assessors were concerned that they "may be required to deal with a large number of proposals lodged without clear grounds of proposal being set out" as highlighted in the Appeal sub-group's report, and ratepayer representatives were concerned that they may be required to set out their detailed grounds of proposal at the point of lodging a proposal, when the Assessor may not have provided any information on how the value was arrived at, and that they would not have the statutory opportunity to respond to the Assessor's response and comparisons.
20. In an effort to address the first concern, the draft regulations require that the grounds of the proposal for alteration of the entry in the valuation roll in the way that is sought, evidence to support these grounds and a statement as to how the evidence supports the grounds must be lodged at the point if making a proposal. The assessor may deem a proposal incomplete if the required information is not provided – the proposer has the right to request a review of this decision. To address the second concern, it is proposed that the assessor will be required to provide, no later than 70 before the PDD, a written statement specifying the basis on which the entry in the valuation roll is arrived at. The ratepayer representative will then have a right of response for 14 days. The assessor will after this date and on or before the PDD make a decision on the proposal, and provide written reasons including any additional information that they wish to provide to the proposer. This short timescale to respond to the assessor is designed to encourage the up-front provision of information by the proposer whilst still providing the latter with a right of response to the assessor. The assessor, in their written decision on the proposal, may provide further information to support their decision.
21. While there will only be four months to make a proposal for alteration of an entry instead of the current six to lodge an appeal, this reflects the compression of a five yearly cycle into three, and it must be borne in mind that owners, tenants or occupiers will have access to their revaluation RV from 30 November the year before a revaluation. In the vast majority of cases, draft values and final values at revaluation will remain the same, which will provide owners and occupiers with five months' notice of their revaluation entry prior to revaluation as this is proposed to be 30 November the year before revaluation.
22. In order to ensure meaningful engagement between parties at the proposal stage and given that appeals will be appeals of an assessor's decision on the proposal, (and not de novo), it is proposed that in general no additional information can be provided at appeal stage to the Scottish Tribunals, over and above what has been exchanged between parties at the proposal stage. There are some limited exceptions to this, as set out in the draft rules of procedure for what will be the new Local Taxation Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland. These are the subject of the separate consultation, referred to above, in relation to the transfer of functions of VACs.
23. Views are being sought on this proposed new system, particularly on the exchange of information between parties, and the different timescales involved.
Question 1 - Do you have any comments on the draft Valuation (Proposals Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2022? We are particularly interested to hear your views on the exchange of information between parties and the different timescales involved.