Poster companies have been accused of avoiding paying the
Government millions of pounds worth of business rates on their
The Liberal Democrats have backed claims that the Government’s Valuation
Office is dragging its feet over updating its list of hoardings and
Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, expressed
concern after a crackdown in Bristol discovered more than 400
unregistered poster sites. The number on the local list doubled after
the review. ’If there is a similar problem occurring around the country,
then we are talking about potentially large amounts of revenue,’ a
Liberal Democrat source said.
Bruce has tabled Commons questions to Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of
the Exchequer, and John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, in an
attempt to find out the level of avoidance of business rates on outdoor
The Liberal Democrats want the Government to consider increasing staff
numbers at the Valuation Office to update lists more quickly. They argue
the extra staff costs could be outweighed by the extra revenue to local
authorities, bringing an overall saving in public spending.
Prescott’s Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions said
it had no information on which to estimate the level of avoidance.
But the Valuation Office said there was no evidence to support Bruce’s
fears that up to pounds 14 million of revenue may be lost annually. It
said that between April and October last year, the number of advertising
sites in England and Wales rose from 35,257 to 35,768, although their
total rateable value fell from pounds 45.2 million to pounds 42.7