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[ 20-04-2010 ]

Many businesses across Scotland have been landed with huge increases in their Business Rates bills, despite the Scottish Government’s extension of the Small Business Bonus Scheme.  Recent Chamber of Commerce surveys have identified increases in rateable values of up to 183%, which alongside the Government’s abolition of transitional reliefs will mean that some Scottish businesses are coming off worse than competitors in England as a result of revaluation.  Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“This year’s revaluation in Scottish Business Rates has resulted in many businesses receiving massively increased bills.  Our members have been telling us that their rateable values have seen an increase of up to 183% this year, and this has resulted in huge increases in their rates bills at a time when many businesses can least afford it.  Businesses in the hospitality sector are being particularly hard hit, and this is extremely worrying as the past two years have seen widespread discounting of room rates in order to maintain demand.
“Our concern is that, here in Scotland, the Government has abandoned the transitional relief scheme, which would have cushioned the blow for those businesses most affected by the rise in rates bills.  In England, transitional relief still applies and is limiting rates rises to 12.5%.  Therefore we are in a situation where many Scottish firms are being hit harder than their competitors south of the border.  This is unacceptable when Scottish firms have been fighting for years to establish a competitive advantage.
“Yes, the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme is a benefit for many of our smaller businesses across Scotland, but that scheme is limited in its scope.  The fact is that a recent snapshot survey of businesses in Edinburgh has shown that over 80% of businesses are reporting that their rateable value was higher than expected, while over 40% said that rates rises would significantly increase overheads and could affect the viability of their business.  This is a situation which is reflected across Scotland.
“The withdrawal of transitional relief is having a significant impact on many Scottish businesses and it is essential that this is reconsidered before it is too late.”