Non-Domestic Rates, often referred to as business rates, are levied on non-domestic properties, subject to statutory exemptions and reliefs. The 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 website. 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.
A number of reliefs are available for certain types of property nationally under Scottish law. These are subject, where applicable, to European Commission rules on State Aid. Some reliefs are mandatory (i.e. must be applied) and some are discretionary (i.e. local authorities have discretion as to their application).
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.
In this publication "relief" is used to mean either a relief or an exemption. The term "properties" is used for lands and heritages listed as separate entries on the Valuation Roll – most of which are buildings, though a small proportion may be land, for example shooting rights, car parks etc.
The information in this publication is derived from the annual local authority Billing System Snapshot, a list of each individual relief in place at the snapshot date, along with associated property reference numbers. These reference numbers are used to match each relief to the property details on the Valuation Roll, which we obtain from the Scottish Assessors, via their Government Users Portal. The continued co-operation of Local Authorities in providing the Billing System Snapshot is gratefully acknowledged.
The Billing System Snapshot in 2020 did not include properties which were only in receipt of the 1.6% universal relief. As this relief was awarded to all properties in Scotland, those on the Valuation Roll as at 1 July 2020, but not reported in the snapshot returns, were assumed to be in receipt of this relief.
Some properties receive more than one type of relief, so the total number of reliefs awarded is greater than the total number of properties receiving relief.
Zero-rated properties have been excluded from all tables in the publication. For more information on zero-rated properties please see Table 12.
Some tables in this document omit previous years to ease readability. In these cases, equivalent information for 2018 and 2019 can be found in the associated Excel workbook.
The numbers and values of reliefs awarded that are presented in this publication include both mandatory and discretionary reliefs. Some reliefs are fully mandatory (e.g. SBBS relief) or fully discretionary, while some reliefs have a mandatory and a discretionary component (e.g. charity or sports relief for registered charities or Community Amateur Sports Clubs). Mandatory reliefs (or mandatory components of relief) are fully funded by the Scottish Government, whereas discretionary reliefs (or discretionary components of reliefs) are generally 25% funded by councils with the Scottish Government providing 75% (though this can vary, e.g. discretionary sports relief can in certain cases be 100% funded by the Scottish Government). The value of reliefs presented here include the full values of the discretionary reliefs, and not just the part that is funded by the Scottish Government (as is the case in some other publications, for example Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics).
The relief values in this publication are the value of awards as at the snapshot date, and do not necessarily reflect the cost of a given award over the full year – for example, some reliefs will be awarded later in the year and will be backdated, while some may have been cancelled before the snapshot date – therefore the relief values as at the snapshot 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.
Final audited figures for 2020-21 will be published in the Local Government Financial Statistics in February 2022. These are not directly comparable to total values in Table 2 as Local Government Financial Statistics only include the cost to the Scottish Government of providing relief, but exclude the discretionary element paid by councils. Other published data on reliefs (e.g. in Local Government Financial Statistics, the NDRI data release, and in Scottish Fiscal Commission's published tables) exclude councils' contribution and report only the contribution made by the Scottish Government. For example, the Scottish Government contributes to 75% of the cost of most discretionary charity reliefs.
The Billing System Snapshot is usually taken 2-3 months following annual billing, to allow time for councils to process relief (re)applications from ratepayers following receipt of their bills, and so to give as full a picture as possible of current relief entitlement.
The snapshot date of 1 July 2020 was a month later than usual (generally taken at the end of May or start of June), as most local authorities had delayed their annual billing due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Due to software update issues and other priorities such as processing business support grants, some councils issued bills after 1 July, thus for some councils some or all reliefs were taken from a snapshot at a later date. Some tables also include information from 2018, when the snapshot date was 1 June 2018, and 2019, when the snapshot date was 31 May 2019.
Previous publications (pre-2019) of SBBS relief statistics were based on summary returns (SBBS totals) from local authorities. For this reason, headline figures in previous (pre-2019) SBBS publications are not comparable with the headline SBBS figures presented in this publication.
Non-Domestic Rates are a property-based tax. They are based on the rateable value of a non-domestic property, multiplied by a poundage set nationally by Scottish Ministers. In 2020-21, the poundage rates are:
- a poundage of 49.8p for properties with a rateable value not greater than £51,000;
- the Intermediate Property Rate of 51.1p (1.3p supplement on the poundage) for properties with a rateable value between £51,001 and £95,000; and
- the Higher Property Rate of 52.4p (2.6p supplement on the poundage) for properties with a rateable value greater than £95,000.
For example, a property with a rateable value of £20,000 will have a gross bill of £20,000 × 0.498 = £9,960. In most cases, the 1.6% universal relief further reduces that amount to £9,960 - (£9,960 × 1.6%) = £9,960 - £159.36 = £9,800.64, and any other relief is applied to the gross bill after the 1.6% relief, in this case to £9,800.64.
A property with a rateable value of £100,000 would have a gross bill of
£100,000 × (0.498 + 0.026) = £52,400. After applying the universal relief, the remaining gross bill is £52,400 - (£52,400 × 1.6%) = £51,561.60. All other reliefs are awarded to this amount.
A number of reliefs are available for certain types of property, some of which are mandatory (i.e. they must be applied) and some are discretionary (i.e. local authorities have discretion as to their application). Most reliefs are application-based, and the ratepayer must submit an application to the local authority (except in the case of exemptions – i.e. Religious Exemptions and Lighthouse relief – which are automatically granted at 100%). Recurrent annual applications are not necessarily required by the council, though some councils may ask ratepayers to reapply for certain types of relief periodically. Reliefs are awarded as a percentage of the gross bill after the 1.6% relief has been deducted, and in some cases, notably SBBS, are based on the rateable value of the property.
The 1.6% universal and RHL reliefs may statutorily be awarded automatically, although ratepayers may still apply for the latter if they believe this was not awarded due to an error.
More detail about eligibility for the SBBS relief is set out Table 13 below. Detailed guidance for the application on all reliefs is available in the Local Government Finance Circular 6/2020.
Eligibility for SBBS relief
SBBS relief offers up to 100% relief on Non-Domestic Rates bills for eligible properties in Scotland. Whether a property is eligible for the SBBS and the level of relief received will depend upon the cumulative RV of all the properties in Scotland of which a ratepayer is in rateable occupation (or if vacant, which the ratepayer is entitled to occupy).
If a ratepayer occupies two or more properties, the cumulative RV of all the properties occupied by the ratepayer is used when assessing eligibility for the SBBS. If the total rateable value of the ratepayer's properties is above £35,000, none of the properties will be eligible for SBBS relief, even if some or all of the ratepayer's properties have rateable values below the SBBS thresholds. This ensures that relief is targeted at the smallest businesses.
|Year||Rateable Value (RV) Band||Relief for higher value business chains|
|2008-09||Cumulative RV threshold*||up to £8,000||£8,001 to £10,000||£10,001 to £15,000||greater than £15,000|
|2009-10||Cumulative RV threshold*||up to £8,000||£8,001 to £10,000||£10,001 to £15,000||greater than £15,000|
|2010-11 to 2013-14||Cumulative RV threshold*||up to £10,000||£10,001 to £12,000||£12,001 to £18,000||£18,000 to £25,000|
|Relief||100%||50%||25%||25% on each individual property with an RV not exceeding £18,000|
|2014-15 to 2015-16||Cumulative RV threshold*||up to £10,000||£10,001 to £12,000||£12,001 to £18,000||£18,000 to £35,000|
|Relief||100%||50%||25%||25% on each individual property with an RV not exceeding £18,000|
|2017-18 onwards||Cumulative RV threshold*||up to £15,000||N/A||£15,001 to £18,000||Over £18,000 and up to £35,000|
|Relief||100%||N/A||25%||25% on each individual property with an RV not exceeding £18,000|
* Lower, Middle and Upper RV bands also apply to businesses with a single property
Eligibility for RHL relief
The RHL relief has generally been awarded automatically to eligible properties, and reduced the rates payable for those properties to nil.
RHL relief was awarded to properties listed and the use of which is defined in Schedule 1 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Coronavirus Reliefs) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 – namely those used as bed and breakfast accommodation; camping sites; caravans; caravan sites; chalets, holiday huts and bothies; guest houses, hotels and hostels; public houses; restaurants; self-catering accommodation; timeshare accommodation; markets; retail shops; leisure; service providers (hair and beauty services, shoe repairs, key cutting, photo processing, laundry services, car or tool hire, car washing or repair of domestic electronic/electrical goods); letting agencies and funeral parlours; and travel agencies.
Schedule 2 of the same regulations also grants 100% relief to the following airports: Aberdeen International, Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Cumbernauld, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Prestwick, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Oban, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree, and Wick John O'Groats. Relief is also granted to other properties situated at these airports and used to provide handling services for scheduled passenger flights (e.g. re-fuelling or baggage handling), as well as all properties occupied by Loganair, which operates flights in the Highlands and Islands.
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, and those greater than five but lower than ten rounded up to ten. All actual zero values (both counts and values) are shown as a dash (-).
Specific local authorities have responsibility for utilities valued under the designated Assessors' regime:
- Electricity – South Lanarkshire Council
- Water – Fife Council
- Gas – West Dunbartonshire Council
- Docks and harbours – Falkirk Council
- Railways – Highland Council
- Canals – Highland Council
- Fixed-line communications – Renfrewshire Council
More information on Non-Domestic Rates, including appeals procedures and reliefs, is available on mygov.scot.
Further Local Government Finance statistics can be found on the Local Government Statistics collection on gov.scot, which also contains a section on Non-Domestic Rates statistics, including revaluation appeals, reliefs, income, and COVID-19 business support grants.
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