Local rates vote welcomed


TRADE groups have welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to retain the Uniform Business Rate and not give councils the power to set their own rates.

As the government’s Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill made its way through parliament members of the Local Government and Communities Committee added an amendment to the legislation that would give local authorities more control over non-domestic rates.

However, that amendment was voted off the Bill this week when it was put in front of MSPs in the parliament’s Debating Chamber.

UK Hospitality executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said the decision to retain a uniform business rate across Scotland “is a sensible and pragmatic one”.

“Scrapping the uniform business rate would likely have been hugely detrimental to businesses in Scotland,” said Macleod.

“It is likely that business rates bills for businesses large and small would have skyrocketed, with the result that already-squeezed businesses may have failed altogether. The lack of a uniform rate would have caused financial and administrative headaches for rates payers and would have further complicated the application of Scotland-wide reliefs.

“Problems with spiralling rates, especially in the hospitality and licensed sectors, still need to be addressed in Scotland, but for now further adversity and needless complication has been avoided.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association said scrapping the uniform rate would have been “a disaster” for the trade.

But managing director Colin Wilkinson also stressed the necessity of further reform of the system.

“The Scottish Government needs to go further on the whole issue of commercial rates and it needs to do it now,” said Wilkinson.

Meanwhile, Labour MSP Neil Bibby has introduced the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament. The proposed legislation would establish a Scottish Pubs Code to govern the relationship between tenants and owners of tied pubs and establish the office of Scottish Pubs Code Adjudicator.