Gerald Eve, adviser to some of Scotland’s largest businesses, has welcomed Jack McConnell’s decision to cut rates for business premises in Scotland by about 10%.
Peter Muir, associate and head of the chartered surveyor and property consultant’s Glasgow rating team, says “After extensive lobbying to the Scottish Executive by ourselves and other business organisations, the rate reduction brings Scottish business rates into line with England and Wales. Previously Scottish business was subject to a UBR (Uniform Business Rate) 10% higher than in England. This decision reflects a major u-turn, but there are still uncertainties and more complexity ahead.
“Most uncertain is the schedule for implementation. No announcement has yet been made for when the change will take effect. We urge the Minister to bring this into effect from April 2006 and to publish the Order at an early date before rates demand notices for 2006/07 are issued in March and April 2006. The Order needs to be published sooner rather than later so businesses can seek advice on their rates bill and budget for the revised payments.
Rate bill calculations are complex and local authorities will require time to prepare bills taking into account the new rate. The Order is essential to understanding how the new rate will interact with existing transitional arrangements and with the existing small business rates rules.
Muir says: “Our clients do not view rates as a “small determination” of overall business costs as expressed by the First Minister and our analysis in conjunction with our clients is that the level of rates can and do have a significant effect on economic viability of their operations and future investment.”