Business Rates Relief Scheme to be discussed by councillors

Hundreds of Aberdeenshire businesses could benefit from a new business relief rates scheme.

A council relief scheme could support around 800 businesses which are likely to be impacted by the most significant business rates increases, if agreed by councillors at Thursday’s (Thu, Mar 9) meeting of Aberdeenshire Council. 

A further 600 businesses will also benefit from a new Government scheme to implement national and local caps of 12.5%.

The Business Rates Relief Scheme has been developed following feedback from businesses across Aberdeenshire concerned at the proposed increases following a revaluation by the Grampian Assessor.

At its budget setting meeting in February, councillors agreed to set aside up to £3 million of ‘enabling money’ to support a rates relief scheme, details of which would be prepared for consideration at full council on 9th March 2017.

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, over 1,000 have received notice of increases in their rateable values impacting on their business rates, some of which have significant cost implications. Councillors will be asked to consider a range of options including 50% relief to businesses with increased liability and who meet agreed criteria, an additional 25% for those businesses already in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, as well as relief on empty properties.

The issue has been particularly highlighted in the North East as the Rateable Value was based at April 2015 when the local economy was extremely buoyant. The Council has endorsed the North East Regional Economic Strategy and is committed to providing support to the business sector, from signposting to other agencies which may be able to assist and in some cases considering financial assistance. Engagement with both the Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses will be ongoing.

Of the 11,000 business rate payers in Aberdeenshire, over 9,000 will see either no impact of the increase in business rates, or are already in receipt of relief arrangements.

Officers are recommending that the scheme is only in place for one year, giving businesses the opportunity to appeal their rateable value.