The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) have welcomed recommendations on making the business rates system in Scotland fairer for retailers, especially those looking to invest or expand their property.
The review, chaired by former RBS chairman Ken Barclay, makes 30 recommendations for change in the non-domestic rates system in Scotland, with the intention of “better supporting business growth, long-term investment and reflecting changing marketplaces”.
The recommendations include:
• to boost business growth, a 12-month delay should be introduced before rates are increased when an existing property is expanded or improved and also before rates apply to a new build property (A Business Growth Accelerator);
• there should be three-yearly revaluations from 2022 with valuations based on market conditions on a date one year prior; and
• the effectiveness of the Small Business Bonus Scheme should be evaluated.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Business Growth Accelerator is a welcome step toward incentivising businesses to invest in their properties and increase the range of services on offer to customers. The current system unfairly penalises those looking to make improvements in their business, leading to many retailers delaying investment plans in fear of the impact on their rates bills.
“We also welcome the recommendation on more frequent revaluations in Scotland, which will reduce the shock of significant changes in valuations as seen from the seven-year gap between the 2017 and 2010 valuation periods.”
SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said: “While we welcome the evaluation of the small business bonus scheme, we hope that it will be extended to take more convenience stores out of the rates system altogether allowing them to concentrate on investment in jobs and services to our communities.”