23 Aug 2017
We welcome the publication of the Barclay Review of business rates as “a welcome addition to the debate” surrounding Scotland’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.
The report has been keenly anticipated by the sector and there are a number of recommendations which can be implemented quickly and with relative ease, giving breathing space for many rate payers.
When this review was announced, we expressed concerns over the stated aim to ensure recommendations were revenue neutral. We did not believe this was the correct approach, on the basis that the Scottish Government does not base this position on meeting any costs from policy changes in relation to other types of taxes.
Throughout the report, there is recognition of the professionalism of rating practitioners and assessors in Scotland, which we strongly support.
We look forward to hearing the thoughts of the Scottish Government and, in particular, from the Finance Secretary, who, having made changes to the non-domestic rates regime in the Scottish Budget last year, pledged to move quickly on the report’s recommendations.
The proposal to introduce rates relief for extended or improved property may encourage expansion and business growth, while three-yearly revaluations would improve fairness and ensure rateable values are more reflective of market conditions. They would also negate the need for transitional relief.
We have previously highlighted the potential of the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) to distort markets by offering a benefit to small businesses over others or, in some instances, act as a disincentive for small business owners to grow their business. In light of this, the proposal to review this is welcome and we will participate fully in any such work. We will also undertake a full-scale review of the report’s recommendations and findings and give feedback next month.
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