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New flexibilities over business rates

Published: 16 Oct 2015 08:56

Councils will be able to offer rates reductions to local businesses.

Councils will get new powers to cut business rates later this month, Deputy First Minister John Swinney will announce today.

Local authorities will be able to lower rates bills for businesses in their area from October 31, under an order laid in Scottish Parliament by Scottish Ministers.

The order, which uses powers under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 which passed in June of this year, means councils will be able to reduce rates bills based on criteria they choose, such as the type of property, its location, occupation or activity.

Mr Swinney said:

"The Scottish Government is committed to giving communities real control over their own futures. This substantial new power, which will give councils more control over business rates, and an opportunity to tailor them to their local area.

"We have already set a strong platform nationally by delivering the most competitive business taxation in the UK; for example the Small Business Bonus Scheme alone reduces or removes business rates for more than 96,000 properties. Scottish councils will be able to use these powers from the end of this month and, in contrast to England, will be able to retain all the business rates they collect.

"With these new flexibilities councils could, for example, use their local knowledge to attract new investment into town centres and help create vibrant communities where people want to live, socialise and do business."

Councillor Kevin Keenan, COSLA's Finance Spokesman, said: "COSLA welcomes the new business rate provisions in the Community Empowerment Act and while COSLA's ambitions are much greater we see this as a positive start to the journey on increasing local flexibility of funding and taxation powers for councils."

Notes to editors

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act, passed in the Scottish Parliament in June, will give communities more powers to take over land, buildings and services, and is part of the Scottish Government's commitment to decentralise decision-making.

The Scottish Government will offer factual guidance for councils on the new statutory power to reduce business rates, and will continue to work in partnership to explore further opportunities with interested councils

More information on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/engage

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2015 brings the new power into force on 31 October, and is accessible at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2015/344/contents/made