Shepherd Chartered Surveyors has advised all commercial ratepayers, but particularly pubs, restaurants and hotel owners to lodge rates appeals now. The company is urging the government to backdate these appeals to 4th March, as a result of a material change of circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Gary Louttit, Head of Hospitality & Leisure at Shepherd, said, “We think that the effective date for these appeals should be the 4th March, when the government first talked of ‘social distancing’. This resulted almost immediately in a significant downturn in trade for most bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels.
“To be able to have such appeals backdated to 4th March, all such appeals must be lodged before 1st April, although appeals on this basis can still be lodged on or after 1st April. We think that appeals lodged on this basis have a very strong chance of success and would recommend that all commercial ratepayers give urgent consideration to instructing appeals to be submitted.”
In response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 all non-domestic properties in Scotland will receive 1.6% rates relief, which effectively reverses the change in the poundage rate for 2020-21. This relief will be automatically applied to rates bills.
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive 100% rates relief for the coming financial year, that is, 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021.
Said Loutitt, “The Scottish Government is working with Scotland’s 32 councils to ensure this relief is administered in the most effective way,” said Louttit. “Operators can get this relief even if they already get another relief on the property.”
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a Rateable Value between £18,001 up to and including £50,999 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. And a one-off grant of £10,000 will be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme relief or Rural relief.
However Louttit points out, “Operators can only apply for one grant, even if they have multiple properties.”
“Most of Scotland’s 32 councils now have links on their websites to allow for applications for these grants to be made and payments are to be made where appropriate within 10 working days.
“If operators are struggling to pay their non-domestic rates bill, they should contact their council. The situation is fast moving and may change. We are monitoring any changes made or proposed by the Scottish Government.”