Scotland extends rates holiday for another year

The Scottish government has confirmed that it is extending 100% of its business rates relief for the hospitality, retail, leisure and aviation sectors for another year.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes confirmed the extension earlier this week (16 February) in Holyrood, putting pressure on Rishi Sunak to match the extension in England ahead of this year’s budget.

Issues relating to business rates are devolved powers split between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Forbes said: “When I presented the budget last month I made clear that if resources allowed I would extend 100% non-domestic rates relief for properties in the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors for all of 2021-22.

“I am now in a position to provide that certainty to business, meeting the number one ask of the business community and demonstrating our commitment to supporting the economy.”

She added: “To ensure the resources are targeted at those who need it most, we are working with Councils to ensure the application process will be live ahead of bills being issued.”

Robert Hayton, UK president of Property Tax at Altus Group, said: “Ending the holiday too early is one material pressure on company finances that risks affecting the recovery from the pandemic now the end is in sight.

He added: ‘The chancellor must use his upcoming Budget to ensure that viable businesses in England are adequately supported through a discerning targeted extension.”

Commenting on the extension, UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “This is a very positive and pragmatic move by the Scottish Government.

“Extending the rates relief was one of the major requests of the hospitality industry in Scotland. It will provide continued support for hard-pressed businesses and give them breathing room to plan ahead with some more certainty.”

He added: “Businesses are beginning to look ahead to reopening, but many still needed continued support in order to survive the weeks and months ahead. Failure to provide more support would have been devastating, particularly with the pessimistic tone sounded by the First Minister on the possibility of Easter and Summer bookings.

“Our recovery will be enhanced immeasurably if the UK Government extends the VAT cut for hospitality, giving businesses an even better chance of survival. It will give many employers vital support to keep jobs open and put them in a much stronger position to help lead the economic recovery of Scotland this year.”

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