A number of independent retailers have spoken of their dismay after learning their business rates payments are set to rocket.
The Scottish Assessors Association made its new draft rateable values available online following the announcement of the Scottish Budget prior to Christmas.
Among those who checked the website was David Sands, owner of David’s Kitchen in Glenrothes, who was shocked to find his store’s rates had jumped 76%.
“I was really taken aback,” he said. “First of all, this is a store that was only recently built. We opened in 2014 and had a valuation then so I thought we were pretty up to date.
“Business rates are meant to be based on rental values. There is no way that our rental values have grown by 76%.
“They’re moving the rateable value for small businesses to £15,000, which means many stores won’t be paying rates at all. Lucky them
“But if they dare to expand their business and then go beyond £15,000 they’re going to get absolutely clobbered.
“Where’s the incentive to move forward with your business? They seem to be saying if you do want to try to invest and compete with the big boys, you’re going to get hammered.”
While values in many areas across the country appear to have risen only slightly, or even fallen, some regions have seen dramatic hikes.
In its response to the Scottish Budget, the Scottish Retail Consortium said it was “hearing early indications and growing alarm from some members that their total rates bills could leap by over 30% for those premises operating in and around Edinburgh”.
Scott Graham, of McLeish in Inverurie, said it appeared the north-east had been especially badly hit.
“Ours is jumping £10,000 a year,” he said. “It’s quite concerning. It seems they’ve taken rental values from 2015 and applied that. But I’ll be paying more in rates than I will in rent, so it’s completely off.
“The rental market two years ago, especially in this neck of the woods, with fluctuations in the oil market, is nowhere close to where it is today. It’s a completely different trading environment.”
Over the road, Mitchells of Inverurie looks set for a 26% increase. The store’s Judy Whyte said: “It’s a really challenging time here. We had to cut staff hours last year to off-set the increase in wage costs and pensions and now we’ve had the massive blow of these rates and we don’t know where the money’s going to come from.
“We’re working with the Chamber of Commerce in Aberdeen to call on the Scottish Government to introduce some kind of transitional relief, because we can’t afford this.”
Retailers can check their draft RV at www.saa.gov.uk