Scotland politics

Call for review of Scottish business rates revaluation

Bank notes Image copyright AFP
Image caption A review of how much each Scottish company has to pay in rates is underway

The Scottish Conservatives have called for an "immediate review" of the business rates revaluation after firms raised concerns about tax increases.

An assessment of how much each Scottish firm will pay in non-domestic rates is under way, to take effect from April.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson has written to Nicola Sturgeon calling for an "urgent review" of the process.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the government had already offered help to businesses.

He said additional help announced in the Scottish draft budget is worth £155m.

The revaluation of how much firms have to pay is being carried out by independent assessors, funded by local councils. The Scottish Assessors Association has published provisional values, with the finalised figures to be sent out in March before they take effect in the new financial year.

The last revaluation in Scotland was carried out in 2010.

'Huge increases'

The Conservatives said they had been "inundated with letters from businesses across Scotland who are facing huge increases in their rates", claiming some faced having to pay four times more than they did previously.

The Scottish Tourism Alliance has also requested a meeting with Ms Sturgeon to discuss what they called "crippling" rates increases, while the Scottish Chambers of Commerce have also raised concerns.

Ms Davidson said: "These shops, hotels and restaurants are vital to our economy, providing much needed jobs in many areas of the country, and we cannot afford to see them simply go out of business.

"That's why I've called on Nicola Sturgeon to listen to the voices of these businesses and the Scottish Tourism Alliance and launch an urgent review into these rate increases.

"The amounts that are being asked for are clearly unsustainable and if immediate action is not taken then we risk seeing a huge amount of damage done to our economy."

Image caption Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson have clashed over business rates at Holyrood

A review group led by former RBS chairman Ken Barclay has been set up to "enhance and reform" the business rates system in Scotland, although it will not report back until after the new rates have come into force.

Mr Mackay said: "The Scottish government announced a package of action to reduce business rates as part of the draft budget. This package of measures delivers a tax cut of £155m, which will help those who might be impacted by a revaluation.

"It will also mean more than half of businesses will pay no rates, 70% will pay either no or less rates than they do currently and the total package of reliefs we are offering will increase to more than £600m.

"The Small Business Bonus Scheme - which has already saved businesses more than £1.2 billion - will be expanded from April to lift 100,000 properties out of rates completely. Meanwhile, 8,000 business properties will no longer pay the Large Business Supplement, and the overall business rates poundage - the core tax rate that applies to the rateable value of business properties - will also be cut by 3.7% to 46.6p.

Mr Mackay added: "The revaluation is conducted independently and local authorities retain the revenue raised. I have been working with Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils on local relief schemes and will continue to do so and we are meeting with the tourism industry in the near future."

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