SRC seeks action as Scotland-only rates surcharge hits £38m

David Lonsdale

A Scotland-only business rates surcharge on medium-sized and larger commercial premises which has cost retailers over £24m since 2016 enters its third year of operation next week (from April 1).

The Large Business Rates Supplement in Scotland was doubled to 2.6p in the pound in April 2016 but remained at 1.3p in the pound south of the border. The Scotland-only surcharge is set to raise a further £14m from retailers in the forthcoming 2018-19 financial year.

It was described as “damaging perceptions” of Scotland’s competitiveness in last autumn’s Barclay Rates Review, which called for parity with England to be restored by 2020. In its response to Barclay the Scottish Government said it was aiming for parity, but only by the end of the current parliamentary term in 2021.

David Lonsdale (pictured), Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said business rates were higher in Scotland than down south for 5,128 retail premises because of the surcharge.

“Scottish Ministers should be making every effort to discard policies which hold back the commercial investment we need to become more productive,” he said. “Instead retailers are forced to pay a higher rates bill, hampering their ability to develop their businesses to be more productive, and ultimately impacting on the growth of the Scottish economy.

“A more ambitious timeframe for ending this Scotland-only surcharge, as advocated by Barclay, and restoring a level playing field with England on the Supplement, is urgently required.”