One in four in dark on rates

Rates revaluation could have ‘serious implications’

Almost a quarter of Scottish licensees are unaware that new rateable values – with the potential to increase non-domestic rates – come into force on April  1, 2017, a new report from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has revealed.

• SLTA chief Paul Waterson reckons a rates hike could put many rural pubs out of business.

Current business rates are set in accordance with the last rates revaluation in 2010, which was based on 2008 turnover figures, but the SLTA survey found 24% of operators are unaware this is set to change.
New rateable values are expected to be available on the Scottish Assessors Association website from January 2017 and operators will have the ability to challenge the new rateable values through an appeal process from April to September next year.
However, the SLTA found that 50% of operators were unaware of their right to appeal.
The survey of over 700 licensees also found that 57% of respondents believe that they are faced with a larger non-domestic rates bill than other businesses of similar turnover but operating outside of the licensed trade.
Next year’s revaluation comes into force in what the SLTA described as a “challenging environment”, with 39% of on-trade businesses showing year-on-year decline for the 12 months to October 2016.
Despite almost two fifths of the trade reporting a decline, the survey did reveal shoots of recovery with 62% of businesses now seeing stability or growth, up from 44% last year.
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said he believes many operators are unaware of the rates revaluation because “it’s been so long since the last valuation”.
“I think because of that people are not aware of the situation, which is a bit worrying because it has serious implications,” he said.
“If there is an increase [in non-domestic rates] that could be the last straw for many operators, especially in rural areas.
“The other point is anybody involved in the rates issue knows it’s very complex business. The whole system lacks transparency.”