The Barclay Review of Business Rates was published yesterday containing 30 recommendations plus a timeline for implementation of the new proposals.
The main recommendations of the Review have been divided into four sections targeted at:
- Efficiency and Transparency of the business rates system;
- Additional Support for ratepayers;
- Proposals to support Growth in the Scottish economy;
- Tackling the issue of Tax Avoidance in order to ensure fairness.
One of the main recommendations is for a three yearly revaluation cycle with a tone date one year before. This new revaluation cycle takes effect from 2022. It will help to provide a business rates system that can more accurately reflect the fluctuations in the commercial property market.
The proposal for the higher rate uniform business rate multiplier to be brought into line with England will provide a much needed level playing field which will enhance Scotland as a location to do business.
In addition a 12-month rates free period for property that is improved, expanded or newly built will go a long way to encourage new investment in property without the immediate impact of an increase in business rates. It is proposed that a new rates relief scheme be introduced from April 2018.
Targeted relief for Day Nurseries has been proposed along with greater support for Town Centres with a proposal for an increase in the present new fresh start relief scheme.
However, some of the proposals raise concern. There is a reduction in relief for vacant listed properties to a maximum of two years relief. There is also a restriction of the relief available under the small business bonus scheme to only properties that are occupied. In additon, charitable rates relief for Independent Schools may be removed from 2020 and relief for the commercial activities of Universities may also removed.
The deadline for Rateable Value Appeals, 30 September 2017, is fast approaching.