BUSINESSES are being warned they could face hefty rates bills.

Carl Ardern, partner at Blackburn-based valuers and surveyors Singletons said many businesses would soon be receiving forms from the Valuation Office seeking information to set rateable values.

"Be careful is the best advice I can give any business which receives a form," said Mr Ardern. "Much of the criteria for assessing the new rateable values will be based on rent agreements.

"The only satisfactory way of determining rateable value is by an accurate property valuation.

"Industrial buildings and warehouses are among those properties which are particularly vulnerable to rate bill increases because values were low at the time of the last valuation."

Meanwhile, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in Lancashire is warning firms to be wary of bogus rating consultants.

"Check the status of the so-called adviser and refuse to pay any money until the job is down and you are satisfied with the work," said David Harvey, secretary of the ACCA small business committee.

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