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New rates changes come into effect.
Businesses across Scotland are to benefit from a fairer rates system.
The changes introduced in response to the Barclay Review will stimulate the economy, reduce red tape, improve transparency and reduce tax avoidance.
From 1 April, there will be no business rates for unoccupied new properties and tenants who take them on will be rates-free for the first year. Where properties are improved, they will not pay any additional rates as a result of the improvement for 12 months.
Eligible childcare day nurseries will receive up to 100% relief, in a move designed to support nursery provision throughout Scotland by reducing overheads for nursery owners - savingthe sector around £6 million next year
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay marked the start of the new policies by visiting The Orchard Nursery in Edinburgh.
“These changes – many of which are unique to Scotland - will help our businesses to continue to thrive while also ensuring they make an appropriate contribution to important local services.
“When I appointed Ken Barclay to review the rates system, I tasked him with
updating it to better support business growth, encourage long-term investment and enable businesses to better navigate fast-changing marketplaces.
“The changes we put in place – in many ways going further than the Barclay recommendations – also allowed us to offer wider benefits, such as supporting the expansion in funded early learning and childcare entitlement with the relief for nurseries.
“I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen at The Orchard nursery and hearing how they intend to use the savings they will make next year.”
Orchard Nursery owner Vicky Coia said: “We are pleased the Scottish Government has led the way by creating business rate relief for the nursery sector across Scotland. It will allow us to invest in more training, staffing and resources to enhance staff practice and the opportunities and experiences we offer the children and their families.”
Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said:
“These new measures from the Scottish Government take us a step closer to developing a fairer, smarter rates system. FSB made the case for these changes in our submission to the recent rates review, and we’re pleased to see Ministers turn them into real help for local firms.
“Local nurseries are a prime example of smaller businesses that are fundamental to the success of their local community and economy. This new rates help should ensure that they aren’t penalised because they operate from specialised premises.
“At FSB, we’re firmly of the belief that if a business makes an improvement to their property they should be given an opportunity to recoup their costs before facing a higher bill. The Scottish Government’s new business accelerator relief does exactly that.”
The Barclay changes were announced by Mr Mackay in September.
Together with the Small Business Bonus Scheme, the rates changes will mean firms make savings of £226 million this year.