The business rates holiday in Scotland is to be extended for a further 12 months for the hospitality, retail, leisure and aviation sectors.
The Scottish government announced the update to the Scottish Budget yesterday, extending the rates relief until March 31, 2022.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes detailed the measures following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus spending.
At a draft Budget last month, Forbes said the Scottish government would extend the business rates holiday for three months until June 30, 2021. The scheme is due to end on March 31, 2021.
“When I presented the budget last month I was 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 next year,” she said.
“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.”
Forbes also announced an extra £50m for town centres through a ‘place-based investment’ programme, now worth up to £105m.
The pressure now builds on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to follow suit and announce similar measures when the lays out the Budget on March 3.
John Webber Head of Business Rates at Colliers adds: “Yet again the Scots seem to be leading the way in terms of allocating business rates reliefs to sectors hit hard by the pandemic. We urge the Chancellor to take a similar path when he announces measures in the March 3rd Budget, but also to consider the plight of other sectors badly impacted including offices and manufacturing.”
Meanwhile, David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, which has been campaigning to secure an extension to rates relief, said: “The Finance Secretary has once again moved with commendable speed to back businesses which have been left reeling by the impact of coronavirus.
“She has clearly listened to our representations and has responded positively to remove the burden of business rates from retailers for the next twelve months.
“This is a bold and significant move and a vital shot in the arm for the sector, much of which remains closed and faces an uncertain future.
“The business rates waiver has been a lifeline for the retail industry, much of which has had to cease trading three times so far during the pandemic whilst at the same time investing significantly in Covid safety measures.
“Scrapping business rates for the coming year provides a much-needed cashflow and confidence boost for the industry – Scotland’s largest private sector employer – as it hopefully emerges from lockdown and seeks to recover.”