Purpose and intended effect
In 2016, the Scottish Ministers commissioned Ken Barclay to carry out an independent review of the non-domestic rates system in Scotland ("the Barclay Review") with the following remit:
- "To make recommendations that seek to enhance and reform the non-domestic rates (also sometimes referred to as business rates) system in Scotland to better support business growth and long term investment and reflect changing market places, whilst still retaining the same level of income to deliver local services upon which businesses rely."
The 2017 Report of the Barclay Review of Non-domestic Rates ("the Barclay Review Report") contained 30 individual recommendations on how the rates system could be reformed in Scotland. In September 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution made a statement in the Scottish Parliament outlining substantive responses to a majority of the Barclay Review recommendations. In December 2017, the Scottish Government published the Non Domestic Rates: Implementation plan in response to the Barclay review which set out the Scottish Government's response to all of the Barclay Review Report recommendations. A number of these recommendations can be implemented administratively and a number require legislation (a mixture of primary and secondary).
The Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill ("the Bill") was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, on 25 March 2019 and published on the Scottish Parliament website the next day. The Bill sets out the legislative framework which underpins the implementation of a number of the Barclay Review recommendations.
The policy objectives of the Bill are to:
- deliver a non-domestic rates system better designed to support business growth and long-term investment and reflect changing marketplaces;
- improve ratepayers experience of the rating system and administration of the system; and
- increase fairness and ensure a level playing field amongst ratepayers by reforming rate reliefs and tackling known avoidance measures.
Rationale for Government intervention
As outlined in Delivering for today, investing for tomorrow: the Government's programme for Scotland 2018-2019, the Scottish Government firmly believes that a strong economy with growing, competitive and innovative businesses is essential to supporting jobs, incomes and our quality of life. The Scottish Government will continue to drive forward work that will make Scotland, the most competitive place to do business, delivering a strong, dynamic and productive economy which creates wealth and employment across Scotland.
As Scotland's second largest revenue raising power, the non-domestic rates system has a key role to play in delivering sustainable economic growth through the direct impact on the operating costs of businesses and on the totality of resources available to fund public services.