Issued on behalf of the Barclay Review Group
Today, the external Barclay review group published their report on non-domestic business rates.
Within the terms of its remit, the Group has made a number of recommendations to improve the current business rates system by stimulating growth, reducing administration and increasing fairness.
Speaking on behalf of the review group, the Chair, Ken Barclay said:
“We received input from hundreds of stakeholders across Scotland and further afield and are grateful for their invaluable insight.
“Although the feedback indicated a number of common themes and concerns, there was no strong appetite for a significant overhaul of the current property-based tax system.
“Many wished to remove barriers to investment and our Business Growth Accelerator would do just that. By removing the burden of rates for 13 months for anyone who improves their property, we hope to stimulate growth and bring forward investment that may have otherwise been marginal.
“New build property will also benefit from a tax break of one year, creating some breathing space for both developers and occupiers and providing a better environment for new ventures to get off the ground.
“More frequent revaluations will help reduce shocks to the system and we also believe that the large business supplement should be reduced.
“A workforce must be inclusive and diverse: childcare provision is crucial to that. So we recommend that nurseries no longer pay rates.
“It is also important to recognise that – alongside the ‘headline measures’ to incentivise investment – administrative improvements can have a hugely positive effect. A better system will reduce the burden for business and allow them to focus on growing their business rather than navigating the rates system.
“Finally, and crucially, any well-functioning tax needs to rely on principles of fairness.
Increasing fairness and transparency will increase credibility from ratepayers.
“Ratepayers providing the same goods or services should not be treated any differently because of their location, or by virtue of them operating in the public or private sector.
“We have also highlighted unfair advantages gained by anomalies within the system, and of those who deliberately avoid payment of tax. Neither is fair.
“These measures are essential for the rates system to remain credible for ratepayers and to ensure revenues are not undermined by avoidance tactics.
“We are clear, this is not about penalising certain sectors, it is about compliance, fairness and transparency.
“Our review group has used all the information and expertise available to us to produce this report, and are confident that the measures proposed can create tangible improvements.”