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Rates relief to be extended in Scotland

Published:  17 February, 2021

Hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Scotland will pay no rates during 2021-2022 as part of a new relief package proposed by the Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes on 16 February.

The move represents a further extension on the three months worth of rates relief announced in the last Scottish budget and is dependent on Scottish government receiving “funding already assumed” from the UK Budget on 3 March.

Forbes said of the announcement: “When I presented our budget last month I guaranteed to extend non-domestic rates relief further if I was given the necessary resources. I can now deliver on that promise, providing the UK Budget in March delivers the funding we require.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) welcomed the extension, describing it as a “much-needed lifeline” to keep hospitality businesses afloat.

“Extending 100% rates relief for the next financial year gives pubs, hospitality and tourism a fighting chance when we do re-emerge from lockdown,” said SLTA spokesman Paul Waterson.

However, the SLTA called on UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to go further with his support for the sector, by continuing to fix VAT at 5% and keeping the furlough scheme in place past its current end of April finish date.

“While rates are generally the biggest fixed rate costs for the hospitality industry, we look forward to further concessions that will help businesses,” he said, adding that businesses must also now be offered a clear route map for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The proposals by Scotland will give some hope to hospitality businesses in England and Wales that further relief will also be offered south of the border to help restore life to the stricken sector.