The Scottish Government is to follow England's lead and postpone the next round of revaluations for the purposes of calculating business rates until 2017
"Following the UK Government's decision to delay the revaluation in England to 2017 we will ensure our commitment to a competitive business environment is not undermined so we will match that date and reform the business rates system," John Swinney said.
Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including medical centres and children day nurseries. Owners of vacant property in Scotland currently receive a 50% discount, or 'relief', on their business rates liability, while owners of trading care homes, listed buildings and other industrial type property receive 100% relief. From April 2013, the 50% relief will be cut to 10% after three months, although empty industrial properties and listed buildings will continue to receive 100% relief. In 2010 Hard-hit private nurseries made more appeals against their rates bills than any other businesses but have had little success in getting substantial reductions. A number of operators decided to appeal themselves,they did not seek the much needed professional advice and as such many appeals were withdrawn with no reductions.
Gary Walton, a rating expert from Walton HPC advised ' Nursery operators were dealt a double-blow when the Scottish Assessors changed how nurseries' rateable values were calculated at the 2010 rating revaluation, while the Scottish Government removed transitional relief which would have phased in the increase in business rates. Nurseries based in large Edwardian and Victorian properties were the worst affected, such as Whitecraigs Nursery in Stirling which saw its rateable value rise by 200% which meant its business rates jumped by almost £15,000 per year- thankfully the owners did take the professional advice and appealed the business rates, and we managed to secure a rates saving of over £50,000 over a 7 year period.
However many operators have not been so fortunate either not exercising their appeal right in 2010 or trying to deal with the Assessors themselves. It is only now that many operators are now saying to me 'I wished we sought the appropriate advice or appealed as our rates are just too high for us'.' Following the government' s announcement , the majority will now need to wait until 2017 as opposed to 2015 to make any significant challenges on the assessments, This even more difficult to accept as profit levels and occupancy levels continue to be squeezed across the country.
That said there may be certain circumstances where you can still appeal and there may be other reliefs available. For example, if there is a sudden fall in trade as a result of material change - such as new facility opening on your door step, or if you have just become a new occupier of a property. Or if it can be proved that the Assessor has made a fundamental error in his assessment.