Small businesses saved as uptake of rates relief increases

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The number of Scottish small business properties benefiting from various non-domestic rates reliefs has risen by 18 per cent over the last year, according to figures published today.

Around 110,500 premises received rates relief in 2009-10 compared with 94,000 in 2008-09, according to new uptake figures published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. These include around 74,000 business properties that paid zero or reduced business rates due to the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2009-10 – up from 64,000 recipients the year before.


The number of Scottish small business properties benefiting from various non-domestic rates reliefs has risen by 18 per cent over the last year, according to figures published today.

Around 110,500 premises received rates relief in 2009-10 compared with 94,000 in 2008-09, according to new uptake figures published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician. These include around 74,000 business properties that paid zero or reduced business rates due to the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus Scheme in 2009-10 – up from 64,000 recipients the year before.

The estimated take-up rate for all non-domestic rates reliefs available to eligible small business properties was 85 per cent in 2009-10. Under the SBBS alone, some 63,000 business properties (almost 30 per cent of all non-domestic properties) paid no rates at all last year, and the SBBS also provided discounts for a further 11,000 properties at 50 or 25 per cent of their bills.

The Scottish Government has been working closely with the Federation of Small Businesses (Scotland) and local authorities to increase take-up and the First Minister will now write to thousands more small firms potentially eligible for relief under the SBBS.

Enterprise Minister Jim Mather is today visiting Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Company, near Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute – where Ministers have a number of engagements over the next two days, including a Cabinet meeting and public discussion in Rothesay tomorrow.

Ardmaleish is one of an estimated 3,600 small business properties who newly-qualify for relief this year (2010-11) due to the uplift and expansion of the SBBS. The company, which employs 23 people, including three supported by the Scottish Government Modern Apprenticeship programme, received a 25 per cent discount in its rates bill this year under the SBBS.

Mr Mather said:
“The Scottish Government is determined to maintain and bolster the supportive business environment that has already helped tens of thousands of small firms make significant savings in the face of tough trading conditions. Successful local businesses such as the Ardmaleish Boatbuilding Company here on Bute are the beating heart of Scotland’s economy so I’m delighted that many more such enterprises are being supported by our Small Business Bonus Scheme – with 63,000 paying no rates at all.

“The company has also just secured a renewed three-year contract with CalMac – illustrating that small businesses can compete successfully for public sector contracts and reap the benefits of government investment in lifeline ferry services. It also exemplifies the spin-off benefits that CalMac brings to island communities in addition to its core business of providing year-round ferry connections.

“We are determined to build on the success of the Small Business Bonus Scheme and, having increased thresholds and expanded the scheme this year so even more can benefit, the First Minister will write to other businesses that may be eligible for a discount of up to £4,070 under the scheme this year. We are firmly focused on building economic recovery and strong, sustainable growth. Reducing or removing rates bills for tens of thousands of small Scottish businesses will help them make the strongest possible contribution to that.”

The Federation of Small Businesses’ Scottish Policy Convenor Andy Willox, OBE, added:
“The Small Business Bonus has been a real groundbreaking move towards a fairer business rates system and, with the last few years’ sluggish cash-flow and wafer-thin margins, it’s clear that it has saved many Scottish businesses from going under and so safeguarding jobs in our communities.

“In the current climate, every penny counts and every small business which is eligible for rates relief should make sure they’re receiving it. The FSB has been working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure this happens and we’re delighted that our efforts are paying dividends, saving businesses and saving jobs.”

Ewen Ferguson, Managing Director of Ardmaleish, said:
“We’re a family-run business with a reputation for reliability and competitiveness and now marking our 20th year of servicing Caledonian MacBrayne’s extensive fleet, in addition to our other repair, maintenance and new-build work. It is important to take every opportunity to cut costs and the discount we’ve received through the Small Business Bonus Scheme is a very welcome boost. I’d encourage other companies to check if they are eligible for this.”

In Argyll and Bute, 3,350 business properties out of around 7,600 in the area received a 100 per cent discount on their business rates through the Small Business Bonus Scheme – that represents 44 per cent of the total number of properties in the area, compared to 30 per cent across Scotland as a whole.

Eligibility for SBBS relief is determined on the basis of rateable value (RV) of all properties within a business. Business properties with an RV of up to £8,000 were eligible to pay no rates at all in 2009-10. For the current year, this 100 per cent relief now applies to properties with an RV of up to £10,000. The threshold for 50 per cent relief was increased from £10,000 to £12,000, and for 25 per cent relief from £15,000 to £18,000.

In addition to the uplift in thresholds, the scheme was expanded from April 2010 to allow a business with two or more properties with a cumulative rateable value of £25,000 or less to qualify for relief of 25 per cent on individual properties with rateable values of up to £18,000.

Other types of non-domestic rates relief include:

  • Charities relief (including community amateur sports clubs)
  • Empty property
  • Disabled persons relief
  • Rural rates relief
  • Religious property
  • Renewable energy generators

Any business which considers they may be eligible for SBBS or any other relief should contact their local council to discuss and request an application form.