Response to the Report of the Barclay Review of Business Rates from the British Hospitality Association (BHA), Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA)
The consortium of tourism industry bodies comprising BHA, SLTA and STA acknowledges the publication today of the report of the Barclay Review of Business Rates and recognises the significant amount of work which has gone into reaching the 30 recommendations which are made to the Scottish Government. While the Review Group acknowledges the case made by BHA that the system of valuing hospitality and licensed businesses is flawed and unfair*, it also acknowledges that there is no system of valuation that is likely to meet with the universal approval of all businesses in such a diverse sector. However, in submissions to Barclay, the industry suggested that Scottish Assessors engage with the industry, its trade bodies and advisers to discuss and agree a future valuation framework which is acceptable to and understood by the industry.
BHA and the other trade organisations will continue to make this case to Scottish Government as it considers how it will respond to the recommendations published today and will begin this at a scheduled meeting with Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay MSP next week. Importantly, the hospitality industry will want to know what proposals Scottish Government has for extending the relief currently available on extortionate rateable values beyond 31 March next year.
The consortium welcomes several of the recommendations in the report including proposals:
To introduce a Business Growth Accelerator
For rural reliefs for key services
To expand the Fresh Start scheme
To reduce unfair rates competition with hospitality businesses from universities and other public sector services
To reduce valuation intervals to three years based on a Tone Date the previous year
To reduce the Large Business Supplement
To review of the Small Business Bonus Scheme
That Scottish Assessors should: improve the information available on rateable value calculations and methodologies; provide greater transparency and consistency in approach and consult on proposed changes to Practice Notes
To reform of the appeals system
To apply a civil penalty for failure to provide information to the Assessor.
Industry realises that these reforms will take time to implement and that some may require primary legislation but urges Scottish Government to move ahead as soon as possible and to engage with businesses as it reaches decisions on the outcome of the report.
*This is confirmed in a report from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPIcE) in June 2015 which indicates that hospitality businesses pay more in business rates than do other sectors of the economy. (SPICe – Financial Scrutiny Unit Briefing Non-Domestic Rates, June 2015)