HMRC’s property valuation unit invests in web mapping tool for ‘historic aerial photographs’

Credit: Nattanan Kanchanaprat/Pixabay

The government agency responsible for property valuation for tax purposes has invested in a web-based mapping service comprised of historical aerial photographs of the country.

The Valuation Office Agency recently signed an 18-month agreement with Getmapping, a Hampshire-based company specializing in the provision of aerial photography imagery. The contract is valued at £23,750 and offers the VOA an optional one-year extension beyond its scheduled end date of March 31, 2024, newly released business information reveals.

The company will provide the government agency with a web mapping tile service: a form of open-source online map built from connected images, each of which is integrated with geographic coordinates – known as georeferencing .

In this case, the map will be created from “historic aerial photographs of Britain”.

The contract states that the VOA will be able “to use the service internally at all levels of the company with an unlimited number of users… [and] can print and use the images”.

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The imagery will support the VOA’s work in property valuation and help set tax rates accordingly. The main role of the agency is to manage municipal tax bands for around 26 million households in England and Wales. It also oversees the business rate list for 2.1 million commercial premises.

Council tax brackets in England are based on the value of a property from 1991, while Welsh brackets are based on 2003 figures.

For new or converted properties, the VOA defines the band based on information provided by the local authority having jurisdiction, in accordance with government guidelines online. Agency officers also reassess the banding of properties if they are subject to a formal appeal or review.

Much of the organization’s work is done remotely, but the councils add: “If the VOA is unable to obtain enough information to consolidate a property, they will arrange a viewing. Usually, the VOA can get all the information it needs from outside, so it won’t need to bother you. The inspector will often take pictures to save time. Usually only one or two external photos are needed, much like a real estate agent would. »

The agency is also responsible for setting local housing allowance rates – which are used to calculate housing allowance – and determining the value of properties for the Right to Buy scheme, which allows social housing tenants to buy their property.

The VOA is an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs and employs around 3,600 civil servants.