Council warns on rates scam


Businesses in Cornwall are being targeted by a scam offering them the chance to reduce their business rates.

Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards team has issued the warning about ‘rating reduction’ firms who are contacting local businesses offering to help them have their business rates reduced on appeal in return for a fee of up to £500.

Local authorities are required to collect business rates on behalf of central government. All rateable values are reassessed every five years and when new rates are applied to businesses, Cornwall Trading Standards receives more complaints about firms who are targeting businesses whose rates may have increased.

Official advice is to be “very cautious” of claims from companies that cold call. Stuart Benson, area manager of the Council’s Public Health and Protection Service, said: “Get advice from the local Valuation Office before you agree to anything. Details of the appeals procedure are included in the revaluation notification and the explanatory notes accompanying the rates bill from the local authority.”



  1. I have had business rates sharks sales calling me. The guy I spoke too was very convincing and they pressured me into an appointment. Within no time at all I was called again from a person who said they were a colleague confirming the appointment. They wanted to know whether I was going to issue a cheque on the day and were quite insistent. After I said I was aware of the fee and wanted to see what they had to offer before I comitted to paying, they started all of the sales talk again and were as nice as pie. When he came to see me it was the hard sell. I felt really uncomfortable, and they talk you into it. I should have just hung up on them because I didnt know them from Adam, but I definately would never pay a penny upfront. When my husband checked them out or rather tried to check them out, they were a brand new company. The Valuation office had never heard of them and told us that we should never pay up front.

  2. The difficulty is that these companies are operating from virtual offices in London, and it is not possible on the large, for victims to travel this distance or to voice complaints until it is too late. My only advice is not to pay anything upfront. If they can genuinely save you money, then they should not have any issue with payment on the results they promise.

    From what I can understand it is a con. They lodge a quick appeal with the Valuation Office Agency which takes about 30 seconds, and then you never hear from them. They have virtual telephone operators who are paid to keep the lines going and to continue taking messages, which buys these swindlers time to escape being caught. It isn’t just Cornwall. They target small businesses up and down the country.

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