Rates of confusion

David Lonsdale
SRC’s David Lonsdale

SCOTLAND’S current system of business rates is unwieldy and expensive and held together by an often confusing series of reliefs, the Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale has said, with businesses north of the border facing higher rates bills than those in England.

Lonsdale’s criticism followed a response to a written parliamentary question, that revealed Scottish firms will have paid £191.45m more than their English counterparts over the first three years since the Scottish Government doubled the Large Business Rates Supplement in April 2016.

On rates relief packages, Scottish Government figures show that in the past ten years the value of business rates reliefs has grown by 54% with the total for rates reliefs up from £389m in 2008-09 to a forecast £717m in 2018-19.

Lonsdale added that the value of the package of reliefs as a proportion of the overall tax take from business rates over the period has risen too, up from 20% in 2018-09 to a forecast of almost 26% in 2018-19.