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Non-domestic rates reform: analysis of responses to consultation on Barclay implementation

Published: 22 Feb 2019

Analysis of responses to our consultation on accepted recommendations requiring legislation that came out of the Barclay Review of non-domestic rates. The consultation ran from 25 June until 17 September 2018.

85 page PDF

736.7 kB

85 page PDF

736.7 kB

Contents
Non-domestic rates reform: analysis of responses to consultation on Barclay implementation
9. Barclay Review Recommendation 18 – Councils can initiate debt recovery at an earlier stage

85 page PDF

736.7 kB

9. Barclay Review Recommendation 18 – Councils can initiate debt recovery at an earlier stage

9.1 Question 13 and 14 relate to Recommendation 18, "Councils should be able to initiate debt recovery at an earlier stage." The Barclay Implementation Consultation Paper stated that in 2020 the Scottish Government will consolidate recovery of both non-domestic rates and council tax into the same timeframe. This will enable Councils to initiate enforcement action earlier in the year to ensure fairness across all taxpayers. It was also stated that there would be an option for Councils to have discretion over debt recovery in exceptional circumstances and that ratepayers need to be made aware that payments still need to be made regardless of whether a bill is in dispute. To communicate this, the Barclay Review suggested it be included on bills.

Question 13 - How should the debt recovery changes be communicated to ratepayers?

9.2 There were 55 responses to Question 13. No Assessors or respondents from the Independent Education Sector answered this question. A breakdown of respondent categories can be found in the table below.

Respondent Category Number of Responses
Businesses 5
Chartered Surveyor (Private Sector) 4
Independent Education Sector 0
Individuals 3
Local Authority / Local Authority Association / Local Community 26
Other Public Sector and Third Sector 1
Private Sector Professional / Representative / Trade Body 16
Valuation Boards / Assessors / Related Representative Organisation 0
Total 55

Table 13: Respondents Categorised

9.3 There was strong indication that the Scottish Government should be responsible in some part for communication of the debt recovery changes to ratepayers, although to a lesser extent it was suggested that Local Authorities should also play some role.

9.4 Communication strategies identified through the responses included: via annual non-domestic rates billing, via social media or websites, via press releases, in writing (email and letters) and via trade or business associations.

Question 14 - What are your views on whether Councils should retain a discretion over debt recovery to allow for any extenuating circumstances?

9.5 There were 61 responses to Question 14. No Assessors answered this question stating it was outside their remit. A breakdown of responses by respondent categories can be found in the table below.

Table 14: Respondents Categorised

Respondent Category Number of Responses
Businesses 5
Chartered Surveyor (Private Sector) 4
Independent Education Sector 1
Individuals 7
Local Authority / Local Authority Association / Local Community 26
Other Public Sector and Third Sector 1
Private Sector Professional / Representative / Trade Body 17
Valuation Boards / Assessors / Related Representative Organisation 0
Total 61

9.6 The responses indicated that Councils should retain discretion over debt recovery to allow for any extenuating circumstances. The Scottish Chamber of Commerce stated "Extenuating circumstances should be a feature of any fair taxation system" and Stirling Council argued Councils "have a better understanding of potential local issues that may require us to apply discretion". Furthermore, East Lothian Council proposed that if both council tax and non-domestic rates were consolidating in terms of timing, they should further the consolidation and "as with council tax, flexibility and discretion should be permitted to cater for all circumstances." COSLA supported this view stating "Councils should retain discretion locally to deal with extenuating circumstances, as is the case for Council Tax recovery".

9.7 Concerns were raised by a small number of responses that if Local Authorities had discretion over debt recovery for extenuating circumstances it would create inconsistencies between different local authorities. Glasgow City Council stated "discretion generates inconsistency for ratepayers who pay to multiple Councils without resultant potentially negative impacts." Thus, it was argued by the City of Edinburgh Council that "to be fair and again to allow a consistent application of legislation, there should be no discretion. Recovery should be set in line with Council Tax recovery regulations and should be the same for all Scottish Authorities".

9.8 One respondent suggested that discretion could be given by the Valuation Appeal Committee if / when the case was taken to appeal.


Contact

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