This publication provides a snapshot of the reliefs and exemptions from Non-Domestic Rates that were in place at the start of July 2020. It includes the number of properties (by type and geographical area) that were awarded each relief, and the total values of individual reliefs. Some tables in the associated Excel workbook also present reliefs and values as at the snapshot dates in 2018 (1 June) and 2019 (31 May). The publication also includes a section on the Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) relief, as well as one on the two reliefs that were introduced in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data in this publication is derived from the Billing System Snapshot, a property-level dataset of all reliefs in place at the snapshot date, provided to the Scottish Government by local authorities who administer Non-Domestic Rates. This data was matched with the Valuation Roll, maintained by the Scottish Assessors, to access more information about the individual properties in receipt of reliefs.
Detailed information on Non-Domestic Rates and reliefs can be found in the Background Notes on page 30, on mygov.scot, and in the detailed guidance for local authorities which is available on the Scottish Government's website.
Care should be taken in making comparisons with previous years, as this year's billing snapshot was delayed by a month due to later than usual issuing of annual bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the snapshot was taken closer to annual billing than usual, allowing less time for corrections after the bills were issued. Please see the Background Notes for further information.
In this publication, figures showing numbers of properties or ratepayers have been rounded to the nearest ten, with values greater than zero but less than five shown as 0. All actual zero values (both counts and values) are shown as a dash (-).
The relief values shown in this publication are the awards given as at the snapshot date, and do not necessarily reflect the cost of a given award over the full year: for example some reliefs may be awarded later in the year and backdated, while some may have been cancelled before the snapshot date, or before the end of the year. The relief values as at the snapshot date are likely to be an underestimate of total annual relief values. Rateable values may also change during the course of the year, which would affect final annual relief values.
It should also be noted that the value of reliefs presented here includes the full values of the discretionary reliefs, and not just the part funded by Scottish Government.
Final audited figures of relief amounts are published annually in Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics, and the figures for 2020-21 will be published in February 2022. However, these will not be directly comparable to total values in this publication, as Local Government Financial Statistics only include the cost to the Scottish Government of providing relief, and exclude the discretionary element paid by councils.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, two new reliefs were introduced for 2020-21: a 1.6% universal relief, automatically awarded to all non-domestic properties in Scotland, and a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) relief, available automatically to properties used for particular purposes in those sectors, as well as selected airports and certain other aviation-related subjects, as set out in regulations. More detailed information about these reliefs is available on pages 22 to 27, and page 35. As the 1.6% relief was applied universally, it has been excluded from some tables including those which show numbers or proportions of properties receiving relief as they would otherwise show all properties as receiving relief.
Small Business and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grants
In addition to the two new COVID-19 reliefs, the Scottish Government introduced two COVID-19 grant funds which were administered through the Non-Domestic Rates system. Qualifying small properties, and qualifying properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, were made eligible for business support grants, of which over £1bn has been paid out. The main criterion under which a property may have been eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund was that it be in receipt of Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) relief, or eligible for SBBS but in receipt of one of the other specified reliefs. As a consequence, some ratepayers whose property may have been eligible for SBBS but had not previously been claiming have made backdated claims, which has resulted in a larger increase in SBBS claims than would otherwise be expected.
It is also relevant when comparing the number of SBBS recipients this year to last year, that empty properties were from 1 April 2020 no longer eligible to claim for SBBS, and some SBBS recipients may this year be receiving RHL relief instead of SBBS relief, depending on the manner in which reliefs were awarded by the local authority.