Business Rates Relief Scheme Rolled Out

Businesses throughout Aberdeenshire will find out this week if they are entitled to rates relief under a new council relief scheme.
Back in March, councillors agreed a local relief scheme after they set aside up to £3m of ‘enabling money’. This decision was followed by a further announcement from the Scottish Government introducing a new national and local relief scheme, which will cap increases in 2017/18 at 12.5% for specific business sectors including hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes and offices.
Of the 11,000 business rate payers in Aberdeenshire, many have received notice of increases in their rateable values impacting on their business rates, some of which have significant cost implications.
Since that was agreed, council officers have been working hard to calculate the business rates bills for more than 11,000 business ratepayers across the region. As part of this, they have been applying the criteria under which certain businesses will be eligible for relief under the new local scheme. Rates bills will be dropping through letterboxes later this week with the reliefs already applied. Those eligible ratepayers will not need to do anything to get the relief, as it has been calculated and automatically awarded.
Those ratepayers who fall under the £120,000 threshold will see rate relief of 50% being applied to any increase as a result of the 2017 revaluation and in addition, those ratepayers already entitled to a reduction under either the Small Business Bonus Scheme (at 25%) or entitled to a reduction as a result of their property being empty (at 10%), will also see additional rates relief being provided.
Business Rates bills will be issued at the end of the week, allowing business owners to pay the revised rates from May onwards for the 2017/18 financial year.
It is estimated that as many as 1200 businesses will be eligible under the local scheme.
Meanwhile they will also get information enclosed with their bill explaining the Scottish Government Schemes. These are application based, so any businesses who feel they are eligible are encouraged to apply. The detail of those eligible (hospitality sector and offices) is outlined in the information leaflet enclosed with the bills and the application process is also explained.
Both schemes are in place for one year, giving businesses the opportunity to appeal their rateable value.
For more information, go to our website
www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/business-rates

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Notes to editors:

The content of the information leaflet is copied below.

Important information - Business Rates Charges (2017/18)
Your 2017-18 business rates bill is enclosed and this has been calculated using the rateable value as at 1 April 2017 and the revised business rates poundage for 2017-18 of 46.6p, or 49.2p for those rating subjects with a rateable value of over £51,000.

Revaluation 2017
The Grampian Assessor has carried out a revaluation of all non-domestic (business) properties effective from 1 April 2017.  If you have any questions about your rateable value or if you wish to appeal you should contact the Grampian Assessor. Contact details for the Grampian Assessor are shown on the back of your rates bill and appeals may also be lodged using the Scottish Assessors Association portal at www.saa.gov.uk
Aberdeenshire Council has no control over the rateable value determined for your property and business rates must continue to be paid until the outcome of any appeal is known.

Rates relief for properties in the hospitality sector and offices
The Scottish Government has introduced a one year scheme to restrict any increases in rates charges (when compared against 2016-17) to 12.5% in real terms. This is called Transitional Relief. The Scottish Government has determined that relief cannot be awarded automatically and must be applied for by using the form available on our website www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/business-rates/reductions/ transitional-relief
Applications can only be accepted from businesses or individuals occupying and wholly or mainly using the following designated non-domestic properties:
• Bed and breakfast accommodation
• Camping site
• Caravan (as a non-domestic subject)
• Caravan site
• Chalet or holiday hut
• Guest house, hotel or hostel
• Public house
• Restaurant
• Self-catering holiday accommodation
• Timeshare accommodation
• Offices (where the property is in use as an office)
Businesses and individuals applying for relief will be notified of the outcome of their application in writing in the first instance and if successful, a revised business rates bill will be issued shortly thereafter.
Applications for this relief will be processed as soon as possible. If you currently pay your business rates every month (e.g. by direct debit or another payment method), please continue to do so. Should you wish to discuss this further, please contact a member of the Business Rates Team by telephone on 01346 519622 or by email on business.rates@aberdeenshire.gov.uk 
Transitional Relief is not available to properties that are vacant or which may become vacant during 2017-18, i.e. once any ‘use’ of the property ends there is no entitlement to Transitional Relief.

Aberdeenshire Council – 2017 local revaluation relief scheme
Aberdeenshire Council has introduced a local relief scheme which is intended to complement the Scottish Government’s scheme by providing financial assistance across all business sectors to those businesses and individuals who have seen their rates liabilities increase as a result of the 2017 revaluation, subject to the exclusion list below. Similar to the Scottish Government’s scheme, the Council’s scheme is also a one year scheme and is effective from 1 April 2017.
Aberdeenshire Council’s scheme will see support being provided as follows:
1) 50% relief on the increase in rates liability as a result of an increase in rateable value (due to revaluation).
2) 25% relief on the increase in rates liability for those ratepayers already in receipt of 25% relief under the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS).
3) 40% relief on the increase in rates liability for those ratepayers whose properties are empty at 1 April 2017 and already in receipt of 10% empty property relief.
Ratepayers qualifying under Aberdeenshire Council’s local relief scheme(s) do not need to make an application, as reliefs will automatically be applied to all accounts which have been identified as ‘qualifying’.  If you qualify for a relief it will be shown as a reduction on the enclosed rates bill as ‘2017 Local Revaluation Relief’.
Relief under the Council’s scheme(s) will cease immediately upon a ratepayer no longer having a rating liability, e.g. where they move out of their business premises and/or cease to trade.  Where there is a change in rateable value during the 2017-18 financial year, the award of relief will be adjusted accordingly.
Excluded from the Council’s scheme(s) are:
1) Those ratepayers whose rateable value is less than £15,000 and where there is entitlement to relief under the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS).
2) Those ratepayers whose rateable value has not increased (or has seen a decrease) as a result of the 2017 revaluation.
3) Those ratepayers whose individual (premises) rateable values are greater than £120,000.
4) Those ratepayers eligible to apply for relief under the Scottish Government’s Transitional Relief scheme, i.e. the hospitality sector and offices.
5) Those ratepayers whose business is in the Renewable Energy sector.
6) All Public Sector ratepayers/premises.
If you are not excluded from the local scheme(s) by falling into one of the aforementioned categories and you have seen your business rates bill increase for 2017-18, when compared against the 2016-17 bill and yet there is no local relief showing on the enclosed business rates bill you should contact a member of the Business Rates Team by telephone on 01346 519622 or by email on business.rates@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Further Information
Further information, on all aspects of Business Rates, including ways in which to report changes in circumstances at business rates properties can be found on our website www.aberdeenshire.council.gov.uk/business/business-rates


Aberdeenshire Council recognises the potential complexity of this information and therefore would encourage ratepayers to contact the Business Rates Team if you have any queries that are not dealt with in this leaflet.