Scottish Property industry welcomes business rates cap but calls for further rates reform

11 Dec 2014

Policy area: Business rates

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) welcomed today’s decision by Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney to cap next year’s business rates increase to 2% instead of the traditional September RPI figure.

The organisation did warn, however, that continuing to increase the tax by RPI every year is leading to unsustainable levels of property taxation.

It echoed calls from likeminded bodies such as the Scottish Retail Consortium for government to take reform of the outdated business rates taxation system much further, in order to make it fairer, more efficient and more reflective of the actual economy and property market.

The SPF will consult closely with the industry on proposals such as charging fees for appeals when a number of these issues are raised in the Valuation Appeals consultation.

In addition to this, the SPF welcomed an agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on a Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme, which will reward councils seeking economic growth in their areas.

Commenting on today’s announcement, John Hamilton, Chairman of SPF, added: “Rates are now a major burden on businesses and property investors so we welcome strongly the decision by John Swinney to limit their annual increase.  Rates have a direct impact on rental values and are now at a level where they seriously affect the willingness of companies to invest in business premises.  After 25 years it is time for reform, more regular revaluations and a fairer reflection of the true commercial property market for ratepayers so we are calling for wide-ranging reform of this major annual business tax.”