publication of the report of the five yearly review of the Valuation
Office Agency (VOA).
The report recommends that the VOA lead the modernisation of the
using appeals to arrive at acceptable valuations.
Specifically, the report recommends that the VOA adopt a 'right first
time' approach by
* improving the quality of the information on which it bases
valuations for rating and council tax
* standardising its valuation procedures
* involving ratepayers and council taxpayers in valuations at an
earlier stage and keeping them better informed so that there is a
greater acceptance that valuations are right and fewer appeals
* increasing the range of services that it offers through the
Internet to include appeals against council tax bandings and
returns of information by ratepayers
The report also recommends that the VOA remain as an executive agency
of the Inland Revenue, with improved arrangements for its governance
and management. A revised Framework Document for the VOA reflecting
these recommendations will be published later this year.
The review of the VOA was carried out in parallel with the DETR review of revaluation and took account of the work of that review. The report
of the DETR review, and the government's proposals for taking forward
the conclusions of that review, will be contained in a Local
Government Finance Green Paper to be published shortly.
1. The review of the VOA commenced on 1 November 1999.
2. Following an examination of the 'prior options' the review
* although the VOA should not be abolished or privatised, it
should keep under review options for contracting out some
* there are opportunities to improve the service to customers
through greater partnership between the VOA and other government
* the VOA should remain as an executive agency of the Inland
3. The review recommended improvements to the arrangements for
sponsoring and managing the VOA, including closer involvement by
the DETR and the National Assembly for Wales as key stakeholders
of the VOA. These improvements will be reflected in a new
Framework Document for the VOA to be published later this year.
4. Following an evaluation of the VOA's performance in providing
services to its customers the review concluded that
* the VOA has achieved very significant financial efficiency gains
and restructuring of its organisation over the last five years,
* its performance in delivering its valuation services was mixed
in the four years ended 31 March 1999 while it introduced this
programme of savings and restructuring, but it turned in an
impressive performance last year,
* it has a sound technological base and is actively developing
means of doing business electronically with its customers, which
should be taken further,
* the routine reliance on appeals to arrive at acceptable rating
and council tax valuations gives rise to uncertainty and excess
costs both for ratepayers and council taxpayers and for
* there is a need to modernise the rating and council tax
valuation systems to deliver greater efficiency and a better
service by improving the quality of the information on which
valuations are based, using more standardised procedures and
involving and informing ratepayers and council taxpayers more.
5. The review therefore made a number of recommendations for
* the VOA's arrangements for obtaining and recording information,
including better powers to enforce the submission of information
* the VOA's procedures for making valuations, and
* the way valuations are presented and explained to customers and
a greater focus on seeking their agreement to valuations.
6. The report of the review of the VOA is available on the Inland
Revenue's web site at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk or on the VOA's web
site at www.voa.gov.uk
1. The VOA is an executive agency of the Inland Revenue.
The agency was set up under the Next Steps initiative on
30 September 1991.
2. The VOA values land and buildings for a variety of purposes and
for a wide range of public sector clients in England, Wales and
Scotland. Its main functions are
* valuing property in England and Wales for the purposes of rates
and council tax,
* valuing property in England, Wales and Scotland for the purposes
of taxes administered by the Inland Revenue,
* providing a range of valuation and estate surveying services to
other government departments and public bodies in England, Wales
3. The VOA has just under 4,000 permanent staff employed in a
network of 85 offices throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
It is self-funding, recovering the cost of the work it undertakes
through charges to its clients. Its income in the year ended
31 March 2000 was #160 million.
4. Like all Next Steps agencies, the VOA is subject to periodic
review, normally every five years. These reviews
* examine the 'prior options' (namely, abolition, privatisation
and contracting out),
* where agency status is reaffirmed, consider whether any
revisions are required to the agency's Framework Document, and
* evaluate the agency's performance.
5. The DETR's review of revaluation considered how the system for
revaluing properties for non-domestic rates could be improved to
deliver greater certainty, stability and simplicity, while
maintaining an appropriate level of fairness. The review group
involved the VOA and other government departments, the National
Assembly for Wales, local government and business representatives.