Draft rateable values (RVs) for all Scottish non-domestic properties were announced on Thursday 15th December 2016 and will come into effect on 1 April 2017. The Scottish Government also revealed changes to their relief schemes and the level of UBR (rates poundage).
The RVs are usually adjusted every five years, but there was a two year postponement, meaning this is the first increase since 1 April 2010. These changes will affect business rates from 1 April 2017. From initial analysis, in Glasgow the RVs for prime offices appear to have fallen but for retail units in prime areas, such as Buchanan Street the rates have risen, and there is a similar scenario in Edinburgh.
In Aberdeen the situation is more challenging with, for example, the RVs for industrial properties increasing by up to 40%. There is little doubt that non-domestic rate payers in Grampian will be the hardest hit.
These changes are particularly unwelcome and ill-timed for businesses in the North East of Scotland, where business continues to be extremely challenging following the oil price adjustment in late 2014. Worse still, the new RV’s are based on property rentals in April 2015 when the commercial property market had not yet adjusted to reflect changes in local market dynamics. While the timetable is set by current legislation with which Assessors are obliged to comply, there are steps which can be taken to challenge proposed increases.
Lorna Greig, Ryden's Rating expert in Aberdeen and North East Scotland, said: “Proposed increases in RV have come at the worst possible time for Aberdeen and the North East, therefore, it is essential that ratepayers ensure their interests are protected and retain an agent to lodge appeals at 1 April 2017.
A property’s rateable value can be contested and appeals may be lodged within six months of valuation notices being issued, but no later than 30 September 2017. As such, it is of vital importance that all occupiers challenge these new RV’s in an effort to mitigate these unwelcome increases.”
Examples of increases and decreases in the Grampian Region are undernoted. As you will read, these cover a wide range of property types.