Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, the CEO of Business for Scotland said today:
“We need the Scottish Government to step up and be the champion of the business community on rates and to propose a robust set of rates relief measures that protect business from rapid rates rises and therefore protect jobs and economic growth.”
Business for Scotland has a membership of more than 4,000 businesses across Scotland and many have been impacted by the non-domestic rates evaluation 2017. Members who have industrial premises, offices, hospitality businesses and chains of hotels have been impacted by recent changes to the rates system and the latest evaluation. Some business people have reported that their rates are more than doubling and that it is not manageable in the current economic climate.
MacIntyre-Kemp added: “Business for Scotland has provided evidence to the Scottish Government and asked for many changes to the rates system and, so far on rates relief on empty buildings, the Scottish Government has proven to be flexible.
“Rates increases are an issue across the whole of the UK, but the Scottish Government has an opportunity to intervene and create a competitive advantage for Scottish businesses in direct comparison to the UK Government’s complete mismanagement of Brexit. The Scottish Government must step up for Scottish businesses and it must do it soon.
“Business for Scotland will continue to offer help to the Scottish Government in engaging with our members, supplying evidence and helping to refine any rates support programme the Scottish Government offers.”
Business for Scotland has been proactively offering advice and representing the views of members on business rates, especially on changes to rates relief on empty buildings, since 2015 and have contributed pre-budget scrutiny reports to the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee on the issue in 2016.
Business for Scotland recognises that the non-domestic rates evaluation was overdue and not done a specific policy of the Scottish Government, and we recognise that other parts of the UK have also seen business rates increase. However, many Scottish businesses are seeing significant rates increases at the same time as the Brexit vote has created extreme economic uncertainty, especially in the tourist and hospitality sector. Rural hotels in Scotland, in particular, rely on EU workers and EU tourists to survive and significant rates rises at this point will damage many businesses that are vital to their local economies.
Notes to Editors
Business for Scotland pointed out that changes to rates relief on empty premises placed Scottish businesses at a disadvantage compared with businesses in the rest of the UK, which was not consistent with an SNP manifesto pledge.
We requested a compromise of “100% rates relief on industrial premises should be at least six months as they are in England to maintain a competitive advantage and the increase in rates should then be phased in to 10% relief over one year – regardless of any future changes to English rates change”.
The Scottish Government has made changes that now mean the 100% relief lasts for the first six months, thereafter it is reduced to 10% – which is better than the English and Welsh system. We welcome such improvements and hope the same attitude prevails when considering the negative impact of the latest rates evaluation on Scottish business.
BfS also welcomed the draft budget announcement that the SBBS (Small Business Bonus Scheme) will be expanded, raising the eligibility threshold for 100% relief to a rateable value of £15,000. Mainly benefiting SMEs that are the lifeblood of the Scottish economy, this will take 100,000 properties out of rates altogether, generating a saving of up to £6,990 per property.
For further information please contact Michelle Rodger [email protected]