Businesses face a ‘staggering increase’ in rates bills

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Borders businesses hit by rates increases from April 1 must ensure their properties have been accurately valued.

That’s the advice of Gordon Henderson, senior development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and a co-opted member of Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee.

Mr Henderson was commenting this week on the impact on the region’s 7,000 rateable businesses of the first revaluation of non-domestic properties in Scotland since 2010.

“With a seven-year gap between valuations, many firms in the Borders are unfamiliar with this tax change,” said Mr Henderson.

“It is important businesses check out their draft valuations and make appropriate representation if they are not accurate.

“While there are both winners and losers, it appears some businesses are facing staggering increases in their bills.

“Many of the rateable businesses in the Borders remain eligible to benefit from the Scottish Government’s Small Bonus Scheme which offers vitally important rates relief.

“However, for those businesses outside the scope of this help, it is important they ensure they have been accurately valued.

“They can contact the Scottish Borders assessor at Newtown or seek professional help.”

The advice comes as the Scottish Government faces calls to delay implementation of the new rateable values – set by the Scottish Assessors’ Association and based on rental values at April 1, 2015 – pending the outcome of an independent review of non-domestic rates which is due to report to Scottish ministers in July.

In its submission to that review, Scottish Borders Council, which collects business rates on behalf of the Scottish Government, called for a radical overhaul of the system and for exemptions and reliefs to be targeted for businesses in most need.

Also calling for reform was the Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce, which is hoping to arrange a meeting next month for representatives of the local pub and hospitality sector adversely affected by the revaluation.