ACTION ON BUSINESS RATES ‘TIME BOMB’ NOW URGENT

In Chamber News by Sarah Medcraf

Responding to the comments by the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work that the Scottish Government had no plans to cut Business Rates in the light of the Brexit vote, Scottish Chambers of Commerce have urged that inaction on Business Rates is no longer an option, given that next April’s revaluation of rates in Scotland will take no account of the economic impact of either Brexit or persistent low oil prices.  Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Scotland Business Rates will be revalued in less than eight months’ time but the values that will apply are based on the economy as it was on 1 April 2015 – over a year before the EU referendum and before the worst effects of persistent low oil prices became apparent.  If the Scottish Government chooses to do nothing about next year’s rates bills, then businesses will be hit with valuations that bear no relevance to the economic conditions they will be facing next year.

“The Scottish Government has the power to remedy this situation now, before the impact is felt.  It can use its devolved powers to ensure that next year’s valuations are based on current economic conditions, not the artificially high levels associated with an April 2015 valuation.  If it fails to do so, then it is failing Scottish business at a time when we need a supportive Government and is adding to the iniquity of the current Business Rates system.

“Whilst we acknowledge the Scottish Government’s business rates review group will be meeting shortly, it will not report until next July – three months after the revaluation.  Action is required now to prevent a damaging revaluation next April hitting the cost base of businesses across Scotland at a time when they can least afford it.  Inaction is no longer an option for the Scottish Government on business rates.  This is a rates time bomb that must be defused now.”