HL Deb 02 February 1994 vol 551 cc94-5WA
Baroness Jeger

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the function of the Valuation Office Agency; whether they receive appeals against council tax banding; whether they settle these appeals themselves and if so by what process; and how many of the appeals made so far have been successful, and how many unsuccessful.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Lord Henley)

The Valuation Office Agency was launched as an Executive Agency within the Inland Revenue on 30 January 1991. It brought together the Valuation Office in England and Wales and Valuation Office in Scotland.

Through its network of offices within England, Scotland and Wales, the agency undertakes non-domestic rating valuation work in England and Wales, the preparation and maintenance of council tax valuation lists in England and Wales, valuation services to the Inland Revenue, mainly in connection with inheritance tax and gains tax. It also provides valuation and estate surveying services to government departments, public bodies and local authorities. The agency is the major provider of valuation and estate surveying to the public sector.

Appeals against council tax banding have to be served on the local listing officer, who is an officer of the Valuation Office Agency. The listing officer considers the representation of the appellant, carries out inspections and makes his own enquiries. If the listing officer can agree with the contention of the appellant, the banding is altered in the valuation list. Should such agreement not be possible and the appellant is unwilling to withdraw the appeal, it has to be sent within six months to the local valuations tribunal, a body independent of both the listing officer and the billing authority. It is possible, and usual, for discussions to continue up until the date of the hearing by the tribunal, and the majority of the cases are settled without the need for the hearing to take place.

During the initial appeal period, between 1 April 1993 and 30 November 1993 some 914,190 appeals were received in England and Wales, and of these some 187,355 had been settled by 31 December 1993. Statistics are not held centrally of how many of the appeals were resolved on the basis of the appellants' contentions.