Colliers International has welcomed assurances by ministers that the Scottish Government intends to implement the vast majority of the recommendations of the Barclay Review on Business Rates.
 
In particular the Colliers team welcome the announcement to implement:

  • Three yearly valuations from 2022 and the tone date to be brought forward from two years prior to one year  
  • Review of Plant & Machinery which will commence shortly ensuring that this fast tracks the hydro scheme - "Additionally, until such times as the review of hydro plant and machinery valuations has concluded and any recommendations are implemented, I will offer a 60% new relief for hydro schemes from 1 April 2018, subject to an upper value threshold".  
  • New relief for day Nurseries – 100% relief from 1st April 2018 
  • Expansion of Fresh Start Relief – increased from 50% to 100% for the first year of new occupation after a property has been vacant for 6 months as opposed to 12 months- and is now available on all types of property
  • Business Growth Accelerator – from 1st April 2018 unoccupied new build properties will not pay rates through the Assessor, delaying the entry being made in the Valuation Roll and then the tenant will benefit from 1 year without rates.

Louise Daly, associate director of rating at Colliers International in Scotland, said: “When the Barclay Review was published last month, we backed it strongly and said the Government must implement it swiftly, not simply focusing on revenue raising aspects or miss a golden opportunity to create a significantly fairer Business Rates system. Although ministers are understandably and rightly wary of implementing some measures designed to raise revenues lost elsewhere, the indication seems to be that all the core measures, designed to make for a fairer business environment in Scotland, will be adopted, and we wholeheartedly welcome that.
 
“The remit of the Barclay Review was that it had to be revenue neutral, but from a point of view of enhancing and reforming the business rates system to support economic growth and long-term investment and reflect changing marketplaces. That should never have been of prime importance and we therefore urge the Scottish Parliament to back the measures being put forward by the Minister.”
 
John Webber, head of rating at Colliers International, added: “The Scottish Government is to be commended for reacting to the Barclay Review so quickly. While English businesses and landlords are still waiting for news on the length or revaluation cycles following recommendations made over a year ago, Scotland has seized the momentum. These measures, especially the move to a three-year revaluation cycle, could have a significant effect in terms of making Scotland more business friendly and encouraging companies to settle North of the Border.
 
“However, most of these measures will not help businesses in the short term and with continued uncertainty over Brexit, the Scottish Government should be encouraged to implement these changes before 2022.”