Relief extended

Businesses cheer as no rates to pay for next year

Kate Forbes delivering Scottish budget

Kate Forbes: extra support

Shops, pubs, tourism and aviation businesses have been handed a huge lifeline after Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes confirmed they will pay no business rates for the 2021-22 financial year.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, described it as a “bold and significant move and a vital shot in the arm” for retailers.

“The business rates waiver has been a lifeline for the retail industry, much of which has had to cease trading three times so far during the pandemic whilst at the same time investing significantly in Covid safety measures.

“Scrapping business rates for the coming year provides a much-needed cashflow and confidence boost for the industry – Scotland’s largest private sector employer – as it hopefully emerges from lockdown and seeks to recover.”

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Ms Forbes announced the new support following receipt of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding from Westminster.

The minister had already announced a three month rates relief extension in the Scottish Budget.

Newspapers will also continue to benefit from 100% relief for a further 12 months, while charitable rates relief will not be removed from mainstream independent schools until 1 April 2022 due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

Ms Forbes said: “When I presented our budget last month I guaranteed to extend non-domestic rates relief further if I was given the necessary resources. I can now deliver on that promise, providing the UK Budget in March delivers the funding we require.

“The other measures I am proposing today, including further support for hospitals, schools and local government and measures to tackle climate change, build on our priorities to ensure a robust recovery for our economy and public services.”

Cockburn Street Edinburgh pubs

Pubs and tourism businesses will be among those to benefit (pic: Terry Murden)

Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) Scotland policy chairman, said: “Extending rate relief for the next financial year will allow many more 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.

“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.”

However, businesses were disappointed that no reopening date has been set.

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