Retail relief: Scotland extends business rates holiday for 12 months
Scottish retail was given a boost Wednesday with news it won’t pay business rates throughout the next year. The measures, which also cover the hospitality and leisure industries, will last until April 2022.
Under new plans outlined by Scotland finance secretary Kate Forbes, the business holiday extension is part of £1.1 billion consequential funding arising from UK government coronavirus spending.
The announcement, meanwhile, will put pressure on UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the plan to England ahead of next month's budget. Business rates relief measures there are set to end on 31 March, after being implemented for nearly 12 months.
Forbes, who had already announced plans for a three-month extension in her budget last month said: “We are still in the throes of a national emergency and it is important parliament works together to respond”.
According to The Federation of Small Business (FSB), the extension for the next financial year will allow many smaller firms to “make it through to the end of this crisis” and help them get “back on their feet when the economy re-opens”.
Andrew McRae, Scotland policy chair for FSB, added: “Should many bigger businesses choose not to take up this tax break, we’d like to see the money saved spent on measures to give local and independent businesses a shot-in-the-arm”.
Industry leaders said the Chancellor should now announce he’s following suit, ending the uncertainty for firms in fear being hit with tax bills before they are able to reopen.
John Webber, head of Business Rates at Colliers, also said: “Yet again, the Scots seem to be leading the way in terms of allocating business rates reliefs to sectors hit hard by the pandemic. We urge the chancellor to take a similar path when he announces measures in the March 3 Budget, but also to consider the plight of other sectors badly impacted including offices and manufacturing”.
Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at real estate advisor Gerald Eve, also told The Telegraph: “Non-essential retail, leisure and hospitality firms are on their knees and are desperate for ongoing help, and they need to know now, rather than waiting until March’s Budget to find out what their obligations will be just days later”.
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