Business rates review reports

No great overhaul but breathing room for store improvements

THE long awaited results of the Scottish Government review on business rates has been delivered by review chair Ken Barclay, with no signs of a significant overhaul of the current system.

Barclay, who was appointed to lead the review in March 2016, has laid out a number of recommendations for consideration by Scottish Government ministers to improve the non-domestic rates systems.

Recommendations made by the Barclay Commission include more frequent revaluations, a reduction in the large business supplement, a “business growth accelerator” which would delay rate increases following the expansion or improvement of an existing business, a relief package for town centres, and tougher sanctions for businesses who do not provide necessary information to Assessors.

Speaking on behalf of the review group, chair Ken Barclay said: “We received input from hundreds of stakeholders across Scotland and further afield and are grateful for their invaluable insight.

“Although the feedback indicated a number of common themes and concerns, there was no strong appetite for a significant overhaul of the current property-based tax system.

“Many wished to remove barriers to investment and our Business Growth Accelerator would do just that. By removing the burden of rates for 13 months for anyone who improves their property, we hope to stimulate growth and bring forward investment that may have otherwise been marginal.

“New build property will also benefit from a tax break of one year, creating some breathing space for both developers and occupiers and providing a better environment for new ventures to get off the ground.

“More frequent revaluations will help reduce shocks to the system and we also believe that the large business supplement should be reduced.”

The Barclay Commission review of business rates was announced in December 2015 by deputy first minister John Swinney following calls from business owners and trade groups that the current system is unfair.

• More reaction to follow in Scottish Grocer, September 2017