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NFAN EGM FAQ’s

FAQ Quick Links:

Who is on the Rates Sub Committee and Committee?
How do I contact a member of the Rates Sub Committee and Committee?
Why are NFAN supporting the Applejacks appeals?
How will an increase in valuation to 6-9% of turnover impact NFAN members across the UK?
What is the difference between a Lower and Upper Tribunal?
Why do we think AJ’s can win at Upper Tribunal?
Why did AJ’s lose at Lower Tribunal?
Why does NFAN want to support AJ’s at  Upper Tribunal now?
What happens if AJ’s win?
What happens if AJ’s lose?
How much do the committee think it will cost?
Can NFAN afford to support this case? What could be impacted?
What are the key points of our case?
How can Members help NFAN win the case?
Will anyone know how I have voted?
I can’t make this date, how can I vote?
We have two directors, can I have two votes?
What will happen at the EGM?
How can I ensure my tech will work on the day of the vote?
I have more questions, who can I contact?


Who is on the Rates Sub Committee and Committee?

The NFAN Committee and Rates Sub Committee voted unanimously to take this case to the Upper Tribunal and would happily speak to anyone.  View who is on the NFAN Committee here.  The Members of the NFAN rates subcommittee are; Andrew Wolfe, Tom Pearcy, Tom Robinson, Kate Lord, Katie Milbourn, Steve Vinden and Doug Douglas.

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How do I contact a member of the Rates Sub Committee and Committee?

Anyone on the NFAN Rates Sub Committee would be happy to take your questions.  If you don’t know their number or email, please contact info@farmattractions.net to virtually introduce you.

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Why are NFAN supporting the Applejacks appeals?

NFAN have been convinced that recent rises in Rateable Value’s (RV’s) in unsustainable and is a threat to the long term prosperity of the industry.  Applejacks, an adventure farm in Cheshire, has become important as it will be the first farm attraction to test the tactic used by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for assessing RV’s by using % of Fair Maintainable Trade (FMT).  In short, it is an important case.

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How will an increase in valuation to 6-9% of turnover impact NFAN members across the UK?

For a significant number of our members paying rates based on 6-9% of actual turnover will see a large proportion of their profit wiped out.   For some it may mean them becoming unviable.  

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What is the difference between a Lower and Upper Tribunal?

The Upper Tribunal primarily, but not exclusively, reviews and decides appeals arising from the First–tier Lower Tribunal.   The Upper tribunal is similar to the High Court in that those deciding the case will be very experienced senior individuals who will apply far more scrutiny to the evidence than at the Lower Tribunal. Another key difference is the cost.  At the Lower Tribunal if you lose you only have your own costs to bear.  At the Upper Tribunal if you lose you have your costs and a high proportion of the other side’s. However, if you win a high proportion of your costs are met by the other side.

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Why do we think AJ’s can win at Upper Tribunal?

At an Upper Tribunal, (which is similar to the High Court) with our Legal Team, we will be able to get the more senior Tribunal panel members to listen and fully evaluate our arguments in much more detail than at a Lower Tribunal. We can question more easily the evidence the VOA are using and request proof of its substance. We believe the VOA’s approach and data is flawed. Because of the court rules, the recent data from members was not admissible in the lower court. Now we can use it and it is very powerful for our case.

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Why did AJ’s lose at Lower Tribunal?

Some of important arguments were accepted, principally the R&E method was confirmed as the correct methodology for valuing rates. Unusually, the panel did not undertake its own calculation but concluded it simply had to choose between one ‘answer’ or the other. It preferred the VOA answer. We believe that if it had undertaken its own R&E calculation, it would have come to a different conclusion. Some of the data used by the VOA in our opinion required closer examination.

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Why does NFAN want to support AJ’s at Upper Tribunal now?

Unlike the lower court, this will be held with a professional judge who will assess the evidence diligently. We are very confident the result of our calculation will be accepted. We also now have a lot of data, collated from NFAN members, which we can use that really helps our case and put into question the data provided by the VOA. 

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What happens if AJ’s win?

It all depends on how the Tribunal has reached its decision. Whatever it decides, the VOA has to respect that decision. A result at a lower court is not binding. One outcome could be that the Upper Tribunal could well force the VOA to change its rating manual. If the value is reduced to our assessment, it would make it much harder for the VOA to defend why farm attractions should be valued at 6-9% of sales.

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What happens if AJ’s lose?

Losing the case would undoubtedly leave a huge hole in the NFAN reserves, but it would not be fatal to the organisation and given time, it will recover.  In relation to where it would leave us with the VOA, we would obviously need to read the findings of the Tribunal panel very carefully and consider our position for other appeals.  

We would, however, have to pay the other side’s costs and also our own legal fees as outlined here.

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How much do the committee think it will cost?

Going to an Upper Tribunal with a full Legal Team is beyond the reach of most if not all of our members. Our own legal costs are estimated at up to £100k and the VOA’s likely to be in the region of £50k.   Excluding the Upper Tribunal costs, we can afford to pay our bills for the next 12 months and still have £150,000 in reserve. This assumes zero income from events so is the worst case scenario. If we lose at Upper Tribunal, based on the above estimates it will take the majority of the £150,000 reserves: hence the need for an EGM and member support.

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Can NFAN afford to support this case? What could be impacted?

NFAN can afford to pay its bills for the next 12 months and have £150,000 in reserve.  If we lose at the Tribunal, this reserve will be wiped out. It has taken a decade for NFAN to show such a healthy reserve.  This money was always intended for supporting members through events that would potentially impact all businesses.  We believe that the threat posed by the exponential rise in business rates is such an event.

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What are the key points of our case?

We will reaffirm that the R&E is the right valuation method and we will again undermine the use of the % of sales. But we can now show the true figures which undermine not just percentage of sales approach, but the level. In undertaking an R&E, we will simply be showing the correct data produces our figure.

We are currently compiling our argument for the case with the legal team and Mark Wasilewski(insert role). We will be in a position to provide more detail on this at the EGM.

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How can Members help NFAN win the case?

The most valuable resource is your accounting data. It allows us to make proper comparisons with the data the VOA are using. In the past, the VOA have said it possessed farm business data which they used in their calculations. This case is the first time that the data has been shown – and we believe that it is open to scrutinising the integrity of it. Having the right data allows us to show how misaligned the VOA’s assessments have been.

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Will anyone know how I have voted?

No public record will be published.  The Company Secretary will be aware as they need to check members have only voted once but this information won’t be shared with the Committee or any other member.

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I can’t make this date, how can I vote?

If you’re unable to vote in person you can ask someone to vote on your behalf. This is called a proxy vote.  You need to complete this proxy form if you wish to vote by Proxy and return by Wednesday 3rd March.

Your proxy can either follow out your wishes on how to vote or you can give them the responsibility of selecting which way to vote.   You can appoint the NFAN chair as your proxy or appoint your own.  You are responsible for your Proxy attending and voting on your behalf.

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We have two directors, can I have two votes?

Every subscribed Member can vote once, irrelevant of how many directors you have.   The number of times you can vote, depends on the number of membership you hold.  If you have two memberships for example, you could have two votes.  Or if you had a farm membership and a trade membership, you could have two votes.

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What will happen at the EGM?

We will open the doors at 2pm to enable everyone to check their tech on the day or visit the help desk.

The EGM will start with an overview of the situation from Tom Robinson and run through the background to the vote.    We will then take questions using the online chat and once these have been answered, ask every Member to vote.  The vote will be in the form of an online poll.

Once Members have voted, we will then ask any Proxys to vote.  A snapshot of the result will be seen on the day, however, The Company Secretary will need to double check the voting.  For example, if someone has voted by proxy, we need to check they haven’t voted in person.  The final result will be announced after the meeting by email and on Facebook.

Once the proxy vote has taken place the meeting is over.

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How can I ensure my tech will work on the day of the vote?

We are opening the doors at 2pm (an hour before the EGM at 3pm) so you can check your tech and visit the help desk if necessary.

For the Hopin platform, it is best accessed via a laptop on Chrome or Firefox.  Please close Zoom, Teams or any other application that uses a camera.

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I have more questions, who can I contact?

Please contact the NFAN office at info@farmattractions.net and they will either respond or put you in touch with a Rates Sub Committee Member.

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