Councils ignoring rate relief option

Few councils use powers to cut business rates

Aberdeen City Council is one of the few that has used powers to cut rate bills

MORE than three years after they were granted the ability to reduce business rates, Scotland’s local authorities have come under fire from the Scottish Retail Consortium after it was revealed just three councils from 32 have used these powers.

Despite being given powers to provide rates reliefs under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, the Scottish Government has revealed only two local authorities — Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire — reduced rates during 2017-18; and only one, Perth & Kinross,  during 2016-17.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “Three years have passed since councils first got the power to reduce business rates in their areas, but barely any local authorities have bothered to act on it.

“This is hugely disappointing at a time when one out of every ten shops in Scotland’s town centres is lying empty and action is needed to cut the cost of doing business and rejuvenate our high streets. 

“This Scottish Government initiated policy has thus far conspicuously underwhelmed and is at serious risk of being viewed as a flop due to lack of take up by councils.

“Whilst Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Perth & Kinross are to be commended, more widespread adoption by Scottish councils of this local rates relief is – for the moment at least – like the hole in a Polo Mint: missing.”