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The Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation will expose the activities of bogus rating consultancy firms, presi...
The Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation will expose the activities of bogus rating consultancy firms, president John Charman said in his opening address to the institute's annual conference in Torquay.

'Businesses have enough problems to bear in today's competitive world without the added worry of dealing with scroungers and con artists masquerading as professional advisers', he said.

The IRRV alleges firms are being tricked into paying huge fees to people who have no ratings expertise, believing the expenditure will be quickly rewarded by a successful ratings appeal.

'Allegations have been made to us about large sums being charged by various organisations for entirely bogus and unnecessary advice or being taken without any service being provided at all.

'I am sure that should any institute members become involved in such practices then the institute's professional practice committee would take the most severe view', he said.

On council tax, he said it was too soon to give a final verdict but so far it had gone well. 'It has come in more quietly than the government could ever have imagined or possibly ever deserved', he said.

He congratulated the Valuation Office Agency for ensuring properties were valued quickly. He warned delegates not to forget the scale of the poll tax disaster, pointing out there was still £600 million outstanding.

'As yet there is no authoritative estimate as to how much the whole poll tax fiasco cost the country', he said.

'We should have to look at the costs of revenue foregone, the revenue uncollected, the huge additional administrative costs, the disruption of the time of local authority officers, councillors and the courts. On any objective estimate I have no doubt these costs will run into many billions of pounds.

'I worry that events move so rapidly and political memories are so short that we may be in danger of forgetting the near chaos to which local government was reduced and the craziness of the poll tax system itself. 'What happened was predicted by this institute. Sadly our forecasts were ignored', he said. He reiterated the IRRV's insistence that no- one can afford to be complacent about the council tax.

'It is by no means a perfect tax. Its hold on the public is at best fragile', he said. The institute believed parts of the tax were unnecessarily regressive. 'The government must be prepared to modify the tax as soon as there is a reasonable consensus on legislative changes', he said.

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