The Scottish Grocers Federation has called for more small businesses – including convenience store retailers – to be completely taken out of the Business Rates system in Scotland.
In its submission to the Barclay Review Group, the body established by the Scottish government to reform the business rates system, SGF argued that such a move would be fairer and would make the system less complex, more efficient and more cost effective.
Such a move would make more frequent valuations easier, lead to fewer appeals and reduce the overall work load of the Scottish Assessors. The Federation is also calling for annual revaluations to ensure that rateable values maintain a close relationship to market conditions.
In line with the ‘market approach’ favoured by SGF, occupier improvements should be excluded from any revaluations. This would encourage investment and avoid an unfair tax burden being applied to any retailer who had upgraded and refitted their store. SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema commented,
“We know from the new Scottish Local Shop Report that in 2015 there were 3,000 jobs lost in the convenience store sector and store numbers fell by almost 300 - this is the first time we have seen reductions like this since 2012. We are now seeing the cumulative impact of constantly increasing business costs. We need to reduce the rates burden on retailers and taking as many of them out of the system as possible is the best way to do this.”