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Non-domestic rates appeals backlog threatens thousands of Scottish businesses

03 09 20 Non domestic rates appeals backlog threatens thousands of Scottish businesses hero

The Scottish Government's postponement of non-domestic rates revaluation by a year to April 2023 will push more businesses over the edge in the absence of urgent measures to tackle the appeals backlog, property experts are warning.

The delay was announced in Tuesday's Programme for Government 2020-2. The move aligns Scotland with the postponement announced for England and Wales in July by the Westminster government.

Colliers International, a leading property professional services and investment management company, fears the move will put more pressure on businesses already facing a backlog of appeals, including the thousands related to material change of circumstances (MCC) as a result of COVID-19.

However, the firm has welcomed the Scottish Government's decision to base the 2023 business rate revaluation on rents at 1 April 2022 and not 1 April 2021, as is happening in England and Wales.

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers International, said: “What is happening in Scotland will represent a far clearer picture of the market than England and Wales will experience. The closing of the gap to a one-year tone date is desirable in these fast-changing times and this should set a precedent for other countries.”

Colliers International said the Scottish approach means properties’ rateable values will better reflect true market conditions at that time and take any COVID-19 impact into account, and welcomed the move of the 'tone date' ahead of its earlier deadline, following the Barclay Review.

Mr Webber continued: “There are pressing issues to be dealt with when it comes to appeals and urgent action must be taken by the Scottish Government to clear the backlogs.”

Colliers International said the backlog of business rates appeals is being exacerbated by COVID-19. It said there are more than 50,000 additional MCC COVID-19 appeals pushing the system towards breaking point.

Louise Daly, associate director, who leads Colliers International’s Rating team in Scotland said: “Thousands of Scottish businesses are being left in limbo, urgently looking for clarity. Ratepayers cannot wait for another revaluation to happen in 2023. There is a need to reflect the material change in circumstances as soon as possible.

“Businesses need to know what their liability will be, or they could be forced into making ruthless decisions, such as branch closures and job cuts, in preparation for the increased costs they will face.

“The Scottish Government has a key role to play by making an early commitment to extend reliefs to allow businesses to budget accurately. With business rates relief in the worst-affected sectors, such as retail and hospitality & leisure, currently set to be removed in seven months’ time, liability will increase from 0 per cent to 100 per cent overnight.

“Assessors must take action now to deal with the biggest, most significant MCC likely to occur in our lifetime.”

Colliers International added that these are unprecedented times and the consequences of no action at this point will be severe.

Ms Daly concluded: “We're making an urgent call to assessors to use their powers to pro-actively deal with the 50,000-plus MCC COVID-19 appeals. They should give effect to the Material Change of Circumstances experienced by businesses due to the pandemic. The Scottish Government must quickly commit to and announce any extensions or additional measures that may be made available to businesses, such as retail, leisure hotels relief, in the next financial year to avoid more business and job casualties.”

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 35 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 135 plus rating team at Colliers.  When I took over responsibility for the team in 2005, it consisted of only a dozen people and has now grown into one of the leading rating advisory teams in the country.  I am a member of Colliers' UK Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s Balance in Business Committee. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am involved in lobbying MPs/ministers and senior civil servants on business rates matters.

I started my career in the Valuation Office Agency in Kidderminster.  I joined Gerald Eve in 2000 where I spent 10 years before moving to Gooch Webster (now Colliers). I sit on the National Retail Panel of Rating Surveyors Association which provides guidance on how the RSA town committees work with the VOA and valuation matters.  I have also held the postion as Chair of the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014. I currently sit on the Rating Surveyors Association National Committee .

Along with Philip Harrison we founded 'Accurates' in 2007, the Collier's Compliance and Audit team, which although forms an integral part of the Rating team is now a leading brand in its own right.

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Louise Daly




Louise's role within the Rating Department involves dealing with a large number of appeals on behalf of various local and national clients.


Louise has been involved in complex negotiations for a diverse portfolio of properties across the whole of Scotland in order to secure reductions in Rateable Value for clients.

Louise is also involved in Commercial Lease Consultancy comprising mostly of rent reviews, lease renewals and lease re-gears. Working for a number of national clients on their Scottish property porfolios.

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Suzy Simpson

Head of Content, Communications and PR


London - West End

As Head of Content, Communications & PR for Colliers in the UK, I am responsible for driving the strategic direction of corporate communications, media relations, and the programming and production of multi-channel content to engage external and internal audiences across the UK.

Get in touch for help with: 

  • Content Communication Strategy 
  • Media Relations
  • Corporate & Internal Communications
  • Media Training & Personal Brand Training


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