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Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment
Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment: Coronavirus (Scotland)(No. 2) Bill

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Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment: Coronavirus (Scotland)(No. 2) Bill

Purpose and intended effect

Background

The purpose of the Coronavirus (Scotland)(No. 2) Bill ("the Bill") is to respond to the continued emergency situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The Bill complements and supplements the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, passed by the Scottish Parliament on 1 April 2020, and the Coronavirus Act 2020, passed by the UK Parliament on 25 March 2020, to which the Scottish Parliament gave its consent on 24 March 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak is a severe and sustained threat to human life in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to taking all steps necessary to address that threat. A severe pandemic could infect a large proportion of the population, and the public health measures required to control and limit the spread of the outbreak require a significant adjustment to the lives of those living in Scotland, to business in Scotland, and to the way public services are delivered and regulated.

Current public health guidance[1] continues to require business and public authorities to operate very differently to the way they have done until now by implementing, for example, physical distancing policies, or by requiring their workforce to work from home, where possible. In addition the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020[2] (S.S.I. 2020/103) ("the 2020 Regulations") require the closure of businesses selling food or drink for consumption on the premises, and of a wide range of other businesses set out in the regulations to protect against risks to public health. The 2020 Regulations also prohibit those living in Scotland from leaving the place where they live without reasonable excuse, and ban public gatherings of more than two people.

Public health guidance is likely to require some adjustment to normal life for some time, as the effort to limit and control the coronavirus outbreak continues. The requirements and restrictions in the 2020 Regulations will continue until they are terminated by the Scottish Ministers by direction, or until they expire under regulation 11 of the 2020 Regulations.

The Scottish Government considers that in order for essential public services to continue to be able to discharge their functions in the way they were intended to, some changes need to be made to the way they operate and the way that they are regulated.

Objectives

In deciding to progress further emergency legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Scottish Government has taken into account its responsibility first and foremost to protect the lives and health of people living in Scotland. It has also borne in mind the unprecedented pressures on Scottish business and on the public sector in Scotland, and the effect of the substantial adjustment to the way people are being asked to live by public health guidance, and required to live by the 2020 Regulations.

Even beyond the new restrictions on living and working in Scotland, the coronavirus outbreak continues to have an effect on essential public services which demands a response. The continuing shift in resourcing and prioritisation for central and local government, and those involved in health and social care, will require a number of the obligations and duties on public services in Scotland to be adjusted temporarily, to reflect the importance which the Scottish Government places on responding to the coronavirus outbreak, and protecting the health of people living in Scotland.

The Bill therefore takes the following measures:

  • it makes adjustments to laws which protect individuals to ensure their effective operation during the coronavirus outbreak;
  • it makes adjustments to criminal procedure, and to other aspects of the justice system, to ensure that essential justice business can continue to be disposed of throughout the coronavirus outbreak;
  • it makes a range of provision designed to ensure that business and public services can continue to operate effectively during a period where controls on movements have been imposed, and when pressures on public services are acute.

It is the Scottish Government's view that to ensure public services, business and consumers can continue to operate while taking account of new restrictions imposed by both this Bill, the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, the 2020 Regulations and the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Bill should provide for:

  • Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation
  • Bankruptcy - more accessibility for debtors
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - confiscation orders: section 99(4) "exceptional circumstances": effect of coronavirus on proceedings
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - extending the time to pay and the dis-application of interest in relation to confiscation orders
  • Registered Social Landlords - submission of audited annual accounts
  • Amendment to the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000
  • The deadline for publication of a Ministerial statement on local connection
  • Amendments to the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Act 2020
  • Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents
  • Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments
  • Extending the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland
  • Power to introduce non-domestic rates relief

The Bill will also provide for:

  • Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement
  • Temporary withdrawal of the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person agree to the role in relation to mental health law
  • Amendments to statutory time limits for criminal proceedings
  • Arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers to provide functions within police stations
  • Continuation of undertakings in relation to non-attendance at court as a result of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Display of court documents
  • Timing of establishment of a Nitrogen Balance Sheet
  • Timing of Citizens Assembly on climate change holding and reporting to Ministers and Parliament

Rationale for Government intervention

It is the Scottish Government's view that this legislation is necessary to respond to the specific circumstances found in Scotland. It is also the Scottish Government's view that this legislation will assist public services, business and consumers to continue to operate while taking account of new restrictions imposed upon them. Therefore, this Bill will make changes to our devolved laws in order respond appropriately to our current exceptional circumstances.

The Scottish Government is satisfied that the Bill contains necessary measures required to respond to an emergency situation. The Scottish Government is satisfied that all of the measures contained in the Bill are appropriate and proportionate, and in line with the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, the Bill contains the following safeguards:

  • Part 1 of the Bill will automatically expire less than six months after it comes into force. The Scottish Parliament may extend this for two further periods of six months, giving Part 1 of the Bill a maximum duration of 18 months;
  • where a provision in Part 1 of the Bill is no longer considered necessary, Scottish Ministers may bring it to an end earlier than on this six-monthly schedule;
  • Scottish Ministers are required by the Bill to report on the continued need for the measures, and on the use of powers in the Bill, every two months.

Consultation

a) Within Government

All Directorates within the Scottish Government were consulted on the measures required to respond urgently to the coronavirus outbreak in Scotland. Proposals for measures to be included in the Bill were considered against how necessary they were; whether existing legislative powers could be utilised to achieve the same effect; and how urgently the measures were required to be put in place The provisions contained within this Bill reflect the outcome of that government-wide consultation.

b) Public Consultation

Given how urgently the measures in this Bill are required as a result of the unprecedented challenges currently faced, no formal public consultation has taken place. However, the measures in the Bill reflect concerns highlighted by key stakeholders and Members of the Scottish Parliament.

c) Business

In order to respond as quickly as possible to help slow the spread of the virus, formal consultation with business was not possible.

Options

Two options have been considered: i) Do nothing; ii) Take forward immediate expedited primary legislation.

Option i) was ruled out. The measures takes to respond to the coronavirus outbreak must reflect the magnitude of the challenge presented by it. Doing nothing will not help slow down the spread of the virus and will leave businesses and members of the public without assistance from the Scottish Government on matters which could be addressed and potentially exposed to disadvantage.

Option ii) is the Scottish Government's selected option as it addresses necessary measures as a matter of urgency where either no alternative legislative options are available within the required timeframe, or primary legislation has been identified as the best legislative solution.

Immediate primary legislation

Sectors and groups affected

A wide range of sectors and groups will be affected as the Bill proposes the introduction of time-limited powers connected to the Scottish justice system, social security claimants, business, public services, tax system and consumers. These include, but are not restricted to:

  • Creditors
  • Debt Advice Agencies
  • Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Students
  • Purpose Built Student Accommodation Providers
  • Universities and colleges providing accommodation
  • Further and Higher Education Sector Representatives
  • Registered Social landlords
  • Home owners
  • Adult and Children's Social Care
  • Social Security Scotland
  • Social security claimants
  • Police Scotland
  • Third Sector Organisations
  • Local Authorities
  • Scottish Prison Service (SPS)
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS)
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Individual taxpayers
  • Registers of Scotland

Benefits

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

Provisions in this Bill temporarily introduce:

i. a 7 day notice to leave period for those currently tied into a student accommodation contract; and

ii. a 28 day notice to leave period for agreements entered while the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is in force.

These measures will ensure that students who left their accommodation, or have been unable to return to it, due to Coronavirus restrictions and who wish to end their contract early, are able to do so. They also give students looking to find suitable accommodation for the next academic year reassurance that should restrictions continue and they are unable to take up the accommodation as planned, that they will not be forced to pay for accommodation they are not using for a full academic year. The 28 day notice to leave period provision brings PBSA notice to leave periods in line with the rest of the Private Rented Sector.

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement

The Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement will provide 83,000 carers with a payment of £230.10 in June 2020. The Scottish Fiscal Commission estimates this would cost circa £19 million.[3] The Scottish Government anticipates this would have a positive impact on business, as it decreases the risk that eligible carers would be unable to meet ongoing costs caused by the coronavirus outbreak, such as increased heating and electricity costs from having to stay at home, and additional costs in providing food, activities or other resources.

Bankruptcy - more accessibility for debtors

The measures are focussed on Minimal Asset Process bankruptcies, which cover those assessed as having no surplus income and no surplus assets. More details of the process can be found here: https://www.aib.gov.uk/bankruptcy/types-routes-bankruptcy#whatisMAP

The measures reduce application fees from the current £90, to zero for those whose sole income comes from certain benefits, and to £50 for others. The maximum level of debt covered by the process is increased from the current £17,000 to £25,000, and student loan debt (which survives bankruptcy) is removed from that calculation. Taken together, these should allow more individuals - who decide to enter bankruptcy - to do so in a way that minimises the burden to them, whilst the reduction in protection afforded to creditors is considered acceptable given the current circumstances. Similarly, the application fee for full administration bankruptcies is reduced from £200 to £150.

A second important measure raises the minimum amount that must be owed to a creditor before that creditor can approach the courts to ask that an individual be made bankrupt from the current £3,000 to £10,000. Together with the moratorium extension included in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, this is intended to ensure adequate time for those who will be able to repay their debts in time, once they have recovered from the immediate financial shock caused by the economic impacts of the pandemic. There are secondary benefits in reducing the number of such cases coming to the courts and to Accountant in Bankruptcy, allowing these bodies to focus on higher priorities.

Finally, there is a range of measures around the use of electronic communication and virtual meetings aimed at dealing with impact of the physical distancing required in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These will together help insolvency practitioners and Accountant in Bankruptcy take forward casework in a safe, timely and efficient fashion, with resultant benefits to all those involved in those cases.

Temporary withdrawal of the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person agree to the role in relation to mental health law

No impact is anticipated.

Amendments to statutory time limits for criminal proceedings

The Bill removes the time limit on the permitted length of a single adjournment for a report on the offender's physical or mental condition in summary cases after first calling where the accused is not in custody, and in all cases to allow inquiries to be made prior to sentencing or pending a decision regarding an alleged breach of a court order. This could result in some savings for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) from reduced numbers of court hearings to seek further adjournments.

Arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers to provide functions within police stations

These provisions allow Prisoner Custody Officers to provide functions within police stations, enabling the greater use of virtual custody courts where possible. This means that there will be a reduction in the number of transfers to physical courts where appearing before a court using electronic means can be facilitated. Physical transport will still be required to escort people to prisons, but this will be a lower volume than for all custody cases, which would have traditionally been heard in court before any decision to bail or remand was made.

Continuation of undertakings in relation to non-attendance at court as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

This legislative change allows the court to prevent the expiry of an undertaking and any conditions attached to it where a person fails to appear at court in accordance with their undertaking and the court considers such failure is for a reason related to coronavirus. This will ensure that the undertaking regime continues to operate effectively during the coronavirus outbreak and preserves public safety, especially in domestic abuse cases where conditions attached to undertakings are of particular importance.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - confiscation orders: section 99(4) "exceptional circumstances": effect of coronavirus on proceedings

The amendment to section 99 of POCA puts it beyond doubt that "exceptional circumstances" in relation to proceedings includes the effect (whether direct or indirect) of coronavirus on the proceedings thereby allowing the court to extend the period of postponement beyond 2 years where it is appropriate to do so for reasons relating to coronavirus. Coronavirus is likely to have an impact on both the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and defence agents in relation to the proceedings and the ability to seek an extension of the period of postponement is therefore fair to both parties.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - extending the time to pay and the dis-application of interest in relation to confiscation orders

Amendments to section 116, new section 116A and amendments to section 117 of POCA ensure that accused individuals subject to a confiscation order are not treated unfairly and disproportionately due to their inability to pay an order for a reason relating to coronavirus within the specified period. Without the amendment the court is unable to extend the specified period for payment of a confiscation order for a period in excess of 12 months from the date that the confiscation order was made. If an accused is unable to pay a confiscation order before the expiry of the specified period for a reason related to coronavirus thy will be liable to pay interest on the amount of the confiscation order and could be sentenced to a period of imprisonment.

Display of court documents

The Bill permits documents which would otherwise have been displayed on the walls of the court to instead be displayed on the SCTS website, thereby enabling the documents to be viewed by the public during a time when people are unable to physically access the walls of court. This is a key measure to provide for the continuation of civil and commissary business, aspects of which would otherwise be unable to proceed during the coronavirus outbreak. There will be benefits realised by online publication of documents primarily because documents will be available to a wider audience.

Within commissary court procedure, it is more likely that any other person who could be appointed executor is more likely to see an online notice and will therefore have the opportunity to make representations to the court at an earlier stage which will reduce costs. In other civil procedures many cases will involve businesses either as pursuer or defender. Where, for example, this is being done in the case of a defender whose whereabouts are not known, then there is an improved chance of finding that person, enabling them to properly defend the claim against them. In terms of benefit for the pursuer, the defender is more likely to be traced online than via walls of court, if the pursuer is successful in having a decree awarded in their favour and the defender came forward to obtain the service copy and enter an appearance, it will be far easier for the pursuer to enforce it.

Timing of establishment of a Nitrogen Balance Sheet

No impact is anticipated.

Timing of Citizens Assembly on climate change holding and reporting to Ministers and Parliament

No impact is anticipated.

Registered Social Landlords - submission of audited annual accounts

By introducing legislation it will provide flexibility for auditors and RSLs to complete and submit their annual accounts at a time when there is restricted access to offices due to lockdown measures, levels of staff absence may have increased and there is pressure on auditors availability due to the number of requests from clients to shift audit dates. It also allows RSLs to focus on providing essential services to their tenants and communities during the pandemic.

Amendment to the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

The amendment will ensure that the powers in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 whereby Scottish Ministers can by regulations make provision about the timescales in which Scottish public sector accounts must be provided, the provision of information and documents by electronic means and the manner in which accounts and any other relevant documents are to be published can be used effectively in relation to the periods most likely to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The deadline for publication of a Ministerial Statement on Local Connection

This provision extends the deadline for Scottish Ministers to publish a statement on local connection and open up the flexibility to postpone the required consultation on the statement. Postponing the consultation will allow local authorities and third sector organisations, as well as the Scottish Government, to focus current effort and resources on accommodating and supporting people who were rough sleeping and to prevent further homelessness during the coronavirus outbreak.

UEFA European Championship

The provisions in the Bill amend dates in the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Act 2020 ("the UEFA 2020 Act"). This is required following postponement of the event because of the coronavirus outbreak. This will ensure there is a safe and celebratory look and feel within proportionate boundaries and will help to maintain the free flow of spectators during the rescheduled event. Importantly, it will help to secure sponsorship funding by ensuring sponsors' exclusive rights to associate their brands with the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship. Without this sponsorship the event may need to rely more heavily on public investment.

The provisions also amend the exception to the ticket touting offence created by section 3 of the UEFA 2020 Act, where a ticket is auctioned and the proceeds given to charity, so that this will apply to charities based in any country, rather than the UK and EU only. This may allow more charities to benefit from fundraising through auctions of tickets, although it is important to note that UEFA should be contacted where an auction is planned in order to ensure that tickets will be valid for entry.

By amending the UEFA 2020 Act to support the Rights Protection Programme which adopts a proportionate and time limited approach, these provisions will support successful delivery of Euro 2020. This will help to ensure that the wider economic, social and cultural benefits of the Championship are realised and enhances Scotland's reputation as the perfect stage for major events, in line with requirements of the organisers, potentially increasing the likelihood of Scotland to be successful in bidding for any future major events. Further details about the business and regulatory impacts of the 2020 Act as a whole are set out in its BRIA.[4]

Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 ("the Listed Buildings Act") requires listed building consent for works to listed buildings and conservation area consent for the demolition of buildings within conservation areas. The provision amends section 16 of the Listed Buildings Act to extend the duration of a listed building consent or a conservation area consent that would otherwise lapse during the emergency period because works authorised by the consent have not begun. Consents to which the provision applies will instead lapse at the end of an extended period (which ends on 6 April 2021) unless works have commenced before the end of the extended period.

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 includes provision for extending the duration of planning permissions. This measure has the effect of bringing heritage management consents procedures in line with planning permissions and avoids complaints or challenges from applicants who are unable to commence works as a result of current restrictions.

Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments

The benefits of the provisions on electronic submission and registration of copy deeds will allow the registration of certain documents for which legislative provision permitting electronic registration in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments does not exist.

The benefits are twofold: Firstly, in terms of the Register of Inhibitions they provide creditors a route to recovery of debt that they would otherwise normally be able to access but cannot due to social distancing. Secondly, in terms of the Register of judgments they provide parties with the ability to register judgments from outwith Scotland or obtain certificates, meaning these can be recognised and enforced in Scotland.

The provisions in the Bill, in conjunction with the provisions made in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020, will allow the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland to accept for registration both in the Register of Inhibitions and the Register of judgments, the full range of documents or copies of documents which may be registered in those registers which are submitted electronically through digital means, such as email or via an online portal.

Taken together, the provisions will allow these registers to continue to function in the period where social distancing guidance is in place and postal applications are not possible while the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland offices remain closed.

Extending the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

The provisions extend to 27 months the current 18 month time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for individuals to reclaim the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS). It applies to taxpayers who were still within their 18 month window on the specified date. This will benefit individuals who intended to sell a previous main residence within their 18 month window, but who may be unable to do so as a result of the housing market impact of measures taken in response to the pandemic.

Based on data since the introduction of ADS in 2016, the average amount of gross ADS (i.e. before repayments) paid by taxpayers is around £5,700. The actual amount of any ADS reclaimed by an individual would however depend on the specifics of the relevant transaction.

Power to introduce non-domestic rates relief

The Bill will provide the Scottish Ministers with the power to introduce non-domestic rates ("NDR") relief through subordinate legislation in the year 2020-21 for all or part of the year should they choose to do so. Faced with continued uncertainty over the duration, and potential economic impact, of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses, the power in the Bill will enable the Scottish Ministers to introduce further NDR relief through subordinate legislation in the year 2020-21 for all or part of the year with the ability to backdate relief, which will provide an additional mechanism through which businesses may potentially be supported.

Costs

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

The costs associated with the provisions outlined in this Bill are dependent on the individual circumstances of students and accommodation providers as well as the severity and expected duration of the outbreak.

  • Students - we do not anticipate any additional financial implications to students by giving them a temporary right to give their landlord a 7 day or 28 day notice to leave their accommodation contract.
  • Universities and colleges - We understand that all universities and colleges have voluntarily allowed the early release of students in accommodation they provide in this academic year. Given this, we do not anticipate any additional cost implications from the introduction of a 7 days' notice to leave period in this academic year. However, there will be costs for universities and colleges should it be necessary for students to end (using the 28 day notice provisions) accommodation for the new academic year early. It is difficult to assess this given the uncertainty around what impact, if any, there will be the start of the new academic year and whether institutions will seek to delay contracts starting in response. Based on a short delay to the start of the next academic year of 1 to 2 months, there may be a loss of between around £548 and £1,096 per student who give their landlord a 28 day notice to leave.
  • Purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) - While some purpose built student accommodation providers have voluntarily allowed the early release of students living in their properties, we understand that a number of providers have not changed their practices and are holding students to the original term of their accommodation contract. For providers in these circumstances there will be some financial implications due to loss of income from an early end to the accommodation contract. Based on a 1 to 4 weeks rental loss for those students making use of the 7 day notice to leave this would result in a loss of between £126 and £504. For those students making use of the 28 day notice to leave, based on 1 to 2 months void due to a delay in the start of the academic term, a loss of between around £504 and £1,008 per student. In addition, there may be some additional administration costs for providers related to the return of any money paid by the student where upfront rental payments have been made. Given the variation in contracts and the time available it has not been possible to quantify these costs.
  • Letting agents - There may be cost implications for letting agents relating to additional administration costs (which will depend on the size and processes of individual agents) and where management fees agents charge are linked to rental income. However, given the proximity to the end of the academic year, we think any additional costs will be minimal.

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement

The Scottish Government does not anticipate any extra costs for business as a result of the Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement.

The payment will be made direct into recipients' bank accounts alongside the regular Carer's Allowance Supplement payment in June, with recipients having received a letter with information about the payment in advance. Through this and wider communications, the Scottish Government will clarify that carers do not need to take any action to receive the payment, that it will be paid automatically to carers who receive Carer's Allowance Supplement.

This will minimise potential demand on the advice sector and wider carer support organisations in terms of requests for information and guidance. There are plans in place to engage with these organisations to identify and meet any needs they have, though from experience with the Carer's Allowance Supplement, those needs are anticipated to be minimal.

Bankruptcy - more accessibility for debtors

The costs of these measures will fall almost entirely on Accountant in Bankruptcy, the government agency tasked with administering bankruptcy casework, as a result of a decline in application fee income. The Financial Memorandum estimates this cost as around £100,000 for the initial period of the Bill.

Temporary withdrawal of the requirement for a prescribed person to witness a named person agree to the role in relation to mental health law

The Bill temporarily removes the requirement for a nominated person to have their signature witnessed by a prescribed person when they agree to become a named person. As such no financial impact is anticipated.

Amendments to statutory time limits for criminal proceedings

The provisions which remove the limit on the length of time for which a single adjournment can be made prior to sentencing or pending a decision regarding an alleged breach of a court order could result in some increased costs for the Scottish Prison Service if it resulted in some offenders being held in custody for longer. However, the court can release the offender on bail and is likely to do so where a custodial sentence is not being considered so the impact is expected to be minimal as time spent on remand prior to sentence would be subtracted from the sentence imposed.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - confiscation orders: section 99(4) "exceptional circumstances": effect of coronavirus on proceedings

There are no additional costs associated with this amendment.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 - extending the time to pay and the dis-application of interest in relation to confiscation orders

There are no additional costs associated with this amendment.

Arrangements for Prisoner Custody Officers to provide functions within police stations

It is anticipated that any costs incurred from this change will be met within the existing contracts for the supply of Prisoner Custody Officers. The use of virtual courts will result in lower costs for transport, which could be used to offset any increases elsewhere.

Continuation of undertakings in relation to non-attendance at court as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

It is anticipated any costs associated with this provision are largely notional as there will not be an increase in volume to overall court business as a result of the measure. Instead, what the measure does is provide a power to the court to preserve any protective conditions attached to an undertaking which may otherwise be lost.

There may be minimal legal and administrative costs upon the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service due to the requirement to give notice to the accused of the continuation of an undertaking if the court appoints a new date. There would also be minimal costs to COPFS in notifying Police Scotland of any modification to the date the person is to appear at court and costs to Police Scotland in updating relevant victims and witnesses.

Display of court documents

There is likely to be minor increases in staff costs for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. Per annum staff costs directly attributable to moving to online publication of documents will be approximately £18k as a result of the steps involved in the online process compared to the current minimal role of officials. These costs are offset against the advantages realised from maintaining court business.

Timing of establishment of a Nitrogen Balance Sheet

No impact is anticipated.

Timing of Citizens Assembly on climate change holding and reporting to Ministers and Parliament

No impact is anticipated.

Registered Social Landlords - submission of audited annual accounts

The Scottish Government does not expect any additional costs for RSLs, the Scottish Housing Regulator or Auditors as a consequence of this provision.

Amendment to the Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000

No impact is anticipated.

The deadline for publication of a Ministerial statement on local connection

The Scottish Government does not expect there to be any financial impact as a consequence of extending the deadline to publish a statement on local connection.

UEFA European Championship

Prior to postponement of EURO 2020, the financial costs associated with delivery of the UEFA 2020 Act were set out in the UEFA European Championship (Scotland) Bill Financial Memorandum[5] and BRIA.[6] The costs of changes to primary legislation in the Bill are considered to be minor, especially in relation to the economic opportunity provided by co-hosting the Championship. The main costs are to the Scottish Government (£15,000-£25,000) in working with other members of the Local Organising Committee[7] and UEFA on implementation. This includes engaging with businesses and members of the public, supporting the publication and delivery of guidance on the restrictions, and development of secondary legislation. Glasgow City Council has estimated it will incur an additional £4,000-£5,000 of costs as a result of the provisions in this Bill. This will cover redesign, printing and distribution of guidance, as well as an increase in staffing costs to resource engagement sessions with businesses and members of the public.

The change to the dates of the Championship period will restrict commercial activity in three event zones when these are in operation. This is not anticipated to affect a large number of businesses, given the size of Glasgow as a whole, and the Scottish Government does not anticipate that businesses will have significant compliance costs. Street traders currently licensed to operate in the proposed Hampden Park event zone will not be permitted to trade in this zone on the days that it is in operation (which will be specified in regulations). These match days are in addition to the days on which these traders would usually expect to generate income in a year when the Championship was not taking place. As such the Scottish Government does not consider that the Championship will affect the income they would normally expect. However, it does acknowledge that these traders are likely to earn less than if they were able to operate in the Hampden Park event zone. The UEFA 2020 Act places a duty on Glasgow City Council to offer affected traders alternative trading arrangements when the event zones are in operation, to mitigate any potential adverse impact of the restrictions and allow them to benefit from the economic opportunity the event provides. This duty will continue to apply for the rescheduled Championship.

Listed Building and Conservation Area Consents

It is not expected there will be any financial impact as a consequence of extending the duration for listed building consents and conservation area consents that would otherwise be due to lapse during the emergency period.

Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments

The future costs associated with the certain provisions of the Bill cannot be predicted with certainty at this point. However, in respect of those provisions contained within the Bill related to the functions of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, additional functionality will be introduced to the Keeper's existing online services. Registers of Scotland anticipate initial development costs of between £71,500 and £88,000. Operationally, costs are expected to be neutral with costs relating to staff training and stakeholder awareness raising expected to be offset by potential savings realised from electronic submission and not handling physical mail. For users of the services (primarily the legal profession) any additional costs incurred through submitting electronically will likely be offset by the savings from not using a mail service.

Extending the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

The provisions of the Bill will enable some taxpayers to reclaim a repayment of the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) who would not be able to do so if no change was made. As such, it is expected to result in an increase in the amount of ADS which is reclaimed from Revenue Scotland over a period of time, relative to the positon as it would otherwise have been. The Scottish Fiscal Commission has forecast that the policy cost of the measure will be as set out in the table below. The cost in each year has been rounded to the nearest million pounds. It should be noted that, with the estimates for each year being rounded, the cumulative total is £11 million. However, the overall estimated cost across the three financial years is £10 million.

£million 2020-21 2021-22 2022-23
-4 -6 -1

In terms of administration costs, Revenue Scotland already has in place a team of tax and compliance specialists to ensure the efficient collection and management of LBTT. The Bill will require Revenue Scotland to draw upon these existing staff resources for processing any repayments. Revenue Scotland does not expect that the provisions of the Bill will require significant changes to the Revenue Scotland IT system. As such, it has indicated that costs to implement the provisions in the Bill are not expected to exceed £40,000.

The measure does not have any impact on the costs which taxpayers might occur in seeking to reclaim the ADS.

Power to introduce non-domestic rates relief

As this provision is an enabling power to introduce non-domestic rates ("NDR") relief, it does not in itself create any costs for the Scottish Administration, but has the potential to benefit Scottish businesses through reduced rates bills at a cost to the Scottish Government Budget.

Purely for illustrative purposes, if 100% NDR relief were applied to all non-domestic properties excluding the public sector and utilities (e.g. properties used for the generation of electricity) for one month in 2020-21, the Scottish Government estimates that this would lead to a reduction in NDR liabilities (and a saving to ratepayers) of £102 million, while a three-month relief at 50% for these properties would reduce NDR liabilities by an estimated £153 million, and a 12-month relief at 100% for them would reduce NDR liabilities by £1,226 million. The cost of a relief introduced by regulations using these powers would be funded from the Scottish budget.

The Scottish Government has responsibility for setting national NDR policy (including rates, reliefs and exemptions) and the legislative framework for the tax. Responsibility for the day-to-day administration of the NDR system, including the billing and collection of rates due and administration of NDR reliefs, rests with each of Scotland's 32 local authorities for the properties in their area.

The funding available to local government through the settlement consists of the general revenue and capital grants, the distributable amount of non-domestic rates and a number of ring-fenced specific grants, both revenue and capital. The Scottish Government guarantees each local authority's formula share of the combined general revenue grant (GRG) plus the distributable amount of non-domestic rates. GRG is distributed to each local authority according to a needs-based formula which has been agreed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) on behalf of Scotland's 32 local authorities. NDR relief introduced using these powers would cause a decrease in net NDR income which would be funded from the Scottish Government budget.

Scottish Firms Impact Test

As already noted, the urgency with which this Bill is being brought forward has not allowed for any formal consultation with Scottish business or consumers.

However, in relation to the UEFA European Championship, the changes to the dates of the Championship period are expected to have an impact on a relatively small number of businesses in Glasgow. These impacts would also have occurred under the original dates for the Championship period in the 2020 Act, where engagement with businesses on the proposals did take place. Further details on this can be found in the BRIA for the 2020 Act. Given the one-off, relatively short nature of the event, the actions that have been taken or will be taken to mitigate the impact on business, and the limited number of event zones, the Scottish Government continues to believe that the restrictions are not substantial and that their impact will not be long lasting.

Competition Assessment

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

These provisions to introduce a notice to leave will apply equally to all providers of purpose built student accommodation and halls of residence, it is unlikely to have any impact.

UEFA European Championship

The changes to the Championship period included in the Bill mean that a relatively small number of suppliers (compared to those operating in Glasgow as a whole) could be directly limited when the event zones are in operation (up to 42 days). This would have been the case had the event gone ahead as planned in 2020. The Scottish Government does not regard the impact on competition to be substantial, widespread or long lasting and as such it is considered that this policy does not raise competition concerns.

Consumer Assessment

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

Provisions to enable students living purpose built student accommodation and halls of residence to give their landlord 7 or 28 days' notice to leave, provide increased protection for consumers during the current outbreak.

UEFA European Championship

The provisions to change the dates of the Championship period will limit the number and range of suppliers for some goods in the event zones when these are in operation, however, other businesses in the zones (such as those based inside buildings) will be able to operate as normal. There will be a positive impact as a result of people being assured that they are buying official merchandise, reducing opportunities for unscrupulous suppliers to target consumers. These provisions are considered to be proportionate as they will only apply to the relatively small geographical area covered by the event zones and will only be in effect for a short period of time (up to 42 days).

Test run of business forms

There is no current need for the test run of business forms.

Digital Impact Test

No digital impact test is required. The Bill's provisions do not give rise to any immediate or direct impact on technology or technological advances.

Registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments by electronic submission will make use of pre-existing systems and services offered by the Keeper, modified as required. These will be primarily submitted by existing users of the Keeper's other systems such as solicitors, sheriff officers and trustees in sequestration etc.

Legal Aid Impact Test

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

The Scottish Government does not expect provisions enabling students to give their landlord either 7 days or 28 days' notice to leave will have implications for legal aid.

Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments

The Bill's provisions do not give rise to an immediate impact on the legal aid fund.

Extending the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

The policy does not give rise to use of legal processes or create new rights or responsibilities which will impact on the legal aid fund. The provision amends an existing right but not one which is dealt with through a legal process. It is dealt with administratively by Revenue Scotland.

UEFA European Championship

While any individual (excluding a "body corporate or unincorporate") is entitled to advice and assistance on a matter of Scots law, subject to financial eligibility and liability to pay a contribution, the number of prosecutions of individuals as a result of the 2020 Act as a whole is expected to be very low and the amendments to it contained in the Bill are considered to have minimal implications for legal aid. Prosecution would be expected to be a last resort and the potential impact is also reduced due to the time-limited nature of the offences.

Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments

The Bill's provisions will not give rise to an immediate impact on the legal aid fund.

Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

The Scottish Government will work with key stakeholders including those representing students and accommodation providers through their student accommodation group to share guidance and monitor the impact of these measures.

UEFA European Championship

The changes to the UEFA 2020 Act will primarily be enforced by Glasgow City Council with Police Scotland also able to enforce, as was the case under the existing legislation. There may be some implications for enforcement if the amendments in the Bill result in additional charity auctions taking place and so work is required to confirm that the auction meets the criteria specified to be exempt from the ticket touting offence. However, the number of additional auctions that will take place as a result of the amendments is expected to be very low. Training of enforcement officers will take place in due course and will include the changes to the UEFA 2020 Act contained in this Bill.

Registered Social Landlords - submission of audited annual accounts

The Scottish Housing Regulator will be able to report on RSLs meeting this requirement.

Implementation and delivery plan

Changes to Student Tenancy Agreements in purpose built student accommodation ("PBSA") and University and College Accommodation

Immediately following provisions coming into force guidance for students and affected accommodation providers will be issued as soon as feasible. This will ensure that students and those providing purpose built student accommodation and halls of residence can access information about their amended rights and responsibilities during the period to which these amendments apply.

UEFA European Championship

Subject to Parliamentary approval of the amendments to the 2020 Act, regulations will be prepared to lay before Parliament later in 2020 which will include specific dates for the Championship period. Glasgow City Council will publish and distribute guidance for affected businesses on the restrictions, including the new dates of the Championship period, in advance of the Championship to allow businesses to understand the implications for them and take any action required to prepare. The requirement for Glasgow City Council to offer alternative arrangements to affected street traders will continue to apply following the amendments to the 2020 Act and will be progressed by Glasgow City Council in due course. The Scottish Government will engage with stakeholders to ensure that the changes to the exception for charity auctions of match tickets is understood.

Registered Social Landlords - submission of audited annual accounts

We will advise RSLs of this change through the Social Housing Resilience Group. The Regulator will also update their guidance for governing bodies.

Extending the time period during which a previous main residence must be sold in order for house-buyers who have paid the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) prior to a particular date to claim a repayment from Revenue Scotland

If these provisions are approved, Revenue Scotland will update its published guidance to advise taxpayers and their agents of the change and put in place any procedures required to ensure that repayments are processed.

Electronic submission and registration of copy deeds in the Register of Inhibitions and Register of judgments

Registers of Scotland will prepare guidance on these provisions and how they will work in practice. The guidance will be published on Registers of Scotland website.

Post-implementation review

Scottish Ministers are required by the Bill to report on the use of the Bill's powers every two months following Royal Assent. In those reports the Scottish Government will also set out its views about whether the provisions of the Bill continue to be necessary.

The Scottish Government has already committed to review the operation of the UEFA 2020 Act after the event and this review will include the changes made by this Bill.

Summary and recommendation

The purpose of the Bill is to allow Scottish Ministers to respond to the coronavirus outbreak in Scotland.

The costs associated with the Bill are necessary in order to ensure public services, business and consumers can continue to operate while taking account of new restrictions imposed upon them by these circumstances.

Declaration and publication

I have read the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment and I am satisfied that (a) it represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected costs, benefits and impact of the policy, and (b) that the benefits justify the costs.

Signed: James Hynd

Date: 6 May 2020


Contact

Email: emma.lopinska@gov.scot