Licensees have welcomed Derek Mackay’s cap on rates increases, but expressed concern that it will only be a short-term solution to the rates issue, writes Dave Hunter.
Operators across Scotland told SLTN they are pleased with the 12-month cap on business rates increases of 12.5%, but encouraged anyone whose rateable values have increased to appeal as soon as possible.
Business owners will be able to appeal the rateable value of their business between April 1 and September 30.
Alan Hampton, owner of 10 Café Bar in Forfar, welcomed the cap but said it is only a temporary solution.
“A bit of common sense has crept in,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, 12.5% is a five or six times inflation increase, but I think a lot of people will be happy. We were looking at an increase of 155%.
“My only concern is it’s a short-term plaster.”
The time frame of the fix was also highlighted by Derek Wallace, owner of Reds on Portobello High Street.
He encouraged licensees with high rateable values to appeal, saying “it would be foolish not to cover your options”.
“I think they (the Scottish Government) just got some breathing room here, and that’s it,” said Wallace.
“I think firms will be foolish if they don’t exploit the appeal window when it opens in April.
“They’d be foolish to think ‘why should I go to appeal and have all that hassle if my rates (increases) are capped at 12.5%?’.
“Well, they’re not. Once that [appeal] window’s closed they can’t appeal unless there’s extenuating circumstances.
“So my advice to any firm would be that if you were going to appeal, then appeal.”
This was echoed by Graham Fleming, owner of the Beach Bar in Lossiemouth.
“We now know that we’re capped at 12.5%, but that’s not stopped our rateable value going to £43,000 in April,” he said.
“All that’s going to happen is, unless they sort out the way assessments are made, everybody’s going to have this problem again next year. So something’s going to have to be done to sort this out.
“There’s been a fix put on it for a year, but the underlying problem of the rates is still there for people.”