Trumped up business rates’ policy or fair play?

Stuart Hicks, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop HeywoodBy Stuart Hicks, Director

Few people will be shedding tears over the recent news that President’s Trump’s Turnberry golf resort in Scotland has been hit by a 30 per cent increase in business rates.

The increase comes after the Scottish Government withdrew tax relief from the venture – taking the property tax for the resort in Ayrshire to more than £834,000.

Opposition politicians are questioning whether Government policy is being based on whether or not they like the business owner, but I think most right-minded individuals would question why such an exclusive resort (it has hosted four British Open Championships) qualified for any business rate relief in the first place.

The President is not involved in running Trump Turnberry – leaving that to his son Eric – but it is ultimately owned by the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust.

It emerged last year that some businesses throughout Scotland faced large increases in their non-domestic rates bills following the revaluation. Criticism by the business community prompted the Scottish Government to introduce a transitional rates relief scheme, which limited the rises for hospitality-related properties such as hotels and restaurants, opening the door for Turnberry to benefit.

Cue some discomfort for the Government when it came to light that the Resort received rate relief of £168,052.

Both sides have had their say in the Scottish media; Turnberry’s manager believes that business rates policy is being shaped on the back of Turnberry’s ownership, whilst the Government claims the Transitional Rates Relief Scheme is expected to save businesses over £15 million across 5,500 eligible properties this year – note the word eligible.

Completely separate to this business rates spat I found the news more shocking that in July the US Government paid more than £50,000 so that the President could stay at Turnberry for a “working visit”, which included rounds of golf with his son Eric.

Federal spending records showed that payments worth £52,477 were made by the State Department to SLC Turnberry Limited is registered in the UK, its directors include Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

So that is a US Government paying a company ultimately owned by its President to allow the President to stay there. Wow!