Business Rates wrapped up for 2017

By Stuart Hicks, Director

Like a trio of puddings you may be enjoying at one of your many Christmas do’s this month, here is an assiette of business rates – a small selection to round off the year if you will.

One each from England, Scotland and Wales, it’s a lightweight portion of news to finish 2017 with:

For England we have London mayor Sadiq Khan wanting to do his bit for the Capital’s night time economy by calling for a cut in business rates for night clubs, pubs and bars.

Khan published his economic development strategy and said the government should shake-up the business rates system to save London firms. He’s calling on the VOA to review its valuations for clubs, restaurants and live music venues, saying he is concerned these businesses faced disproportionately large rises in this year’s Revaluation. Hard to see this one gaining much traction if it’s billed as a exclusive London-only tax cut –  an area which incidentally enjoyed huge savings thanks to the delay in the Revaluation. Next?

In Scotland, parents who send their children to private school are facing higher fees after ministers scrapped relief on business rates. The move means schools in the independent sector will be hit by an estimated £5m bill, however, relief will be retained for special schools serving pupils with additional support needs.

The decision was announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay following a recommendation by the recent Barclay Review on business rates. Independent schools say it will lead to higher school fees and damage bursaries, but supporters say the private education sector has enjoyed the tax relief for far too long. So, is this just private school scare-mongering to challenge a poorly disguised swipe at elitist establishments? I guess parents will find out when the next year’s bill lands on the doormat.

Finally, in Wales, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced that a permanent small business rate relief scheme is to be introduced in Wales from 1 April 2018.

The new permanent scheme will limit the number of properties eligible for small business rate relief to two per business in each local authority, preventing larger businesses or national chains from benefiting. They hope this will allow relief to be targeted more effectively to support small and local businesses. An early Christmas present for Wales’ SMEs perhaps.

Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2018.