Information

Local government finance circular 4/2022 - non-domestic rates relief: guidance

This circular provides general information relating to current arrangements for non-domestic rates reliefs in 2022 to 2023. It also provides examples of supporting documentary evidence. The information was compiled with the involvement of officers from COSLA and the IRRV.

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Annex A - Non-Domestic Rates Relief: Information For Scottish Local Authorities

Introduction

1. Non-domestic rates (NDR), often referred to as business rates, are levied on non-domestic properties, subject to statutory exemptions and reliefs. The NDR framework for Scotland is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, and although broadly similar, is different in detail from arrangements in the rest of the UK.

2. Valuation of non-domestic properties is undertaken independently by the Scottish Assessors, subject to statutory appeal processes, with all valuations freely accessible on the Scottish Assessors Association's webiste.[1] Scottish Ministers annually set a national poundage, which is applied to a property's rateable value (RV). Rating, including billing, collection, enforcement and determination of rates relief, is undertaken by local authorities. A ratepayer may appeal to the council on the grounds that they are being improperly charged.[2]

3. Certain types of properties are statutorily exempt from NDR, either through exclusion from the valuation roll (e.g. agricultural land and buildings) or exemption from rating (e.g. churches, lighthouses, fishings), the effect of these being that the property is not liable for rates.

4. A number of reliefs are available for certain types of property nationally under Scottish law. These are subject to the UK's international commitments on subsidy control arising from, amongst others, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), World Trade Organisation Membership and commitments arising from international treaties and agreements to which the UK is a party.

5. Some reliefs are mandatory (i.e. they must be applied) and some are discretionary (i.e. local authorities have discretion as to their application).

6. Under Part 11 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, local authorities may also reduce or remit non-domestic rates. In doing so, they must have regard to the authority's expenditure and income and the interests of persons liable to pay council tax set by the authority. The revenue impact of local reliefs must be borne by the local authority.

This Document

7. Information in this document is provided by the Scottish Government, in conjunction with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), to Scottish local authorities.

8. This document has no statutory basis, is offered without prejudice to relevant legislation and legal decisions, and does not constitute legal advice.

9. The document was developed by a working group of officers from the Scottish Government, COSLA and a number of local authorities representing the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV). A draft was shared for comment with all local authorities ahead of finalising this version.

10. The document aims to inform a mutual understanding amongst local authority practitioners. It includes general information relating across the different reliefs, and specific information relating to each relief.

11. Given their responsibilities for managing public funds, it is up to local authorities to ensure that procedures for administering relief, including reviewing and re-application processes, are suitably robust, including for audit purposes.

12. This document refers to amended legislation rather than amending legislation. For example, The Non-Domestic Rates (Transitional Relief) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 have to date been subject to a number of amendments – and reference is made to the 2017 Regulations.

Contact

Email: NDR@gov.scot

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