Argyll and Bute business rates appeals unresolved

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More than 800 businesses across Argyll and Bute are still waiting to learn the outcome of their business rates appeals, almost two years after the new valuations were issued.

New Scottish Government figures show that as of December 31, 2018, of the 1,714 who appealed their revaluation across the area, 824 are still waiting for a decision from the assessor.

That means that only 52 per cent of businesses, who appealed, have been informed of the assessors decision, leaving a total of £65 million in outstanding rateable value.

Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative List MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has said that the figures demonstrate that the ability of businesses to plan their outgoings is being put at risk.

He said: “Businesses need to be able to plan for their outgoings and this failure by the SNP Government to properly prepare for appeals represents a major failure on its part. It is unbelievable that over 800 enterprises across our area are still waiting for a definitive response.

“Ministers in Holyrood need to start speaking to businesses about the challenges they are dealing with. If an Argyll and Bute business spent this long to sort out how much it was going to charge someone it would have gone out of business a very long time ago.

“The SNP Government really needs to do better and I will be pressing them very hard to sort this backlog out.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Property valuations are carried out by independent assessors in Scotland.

“The appeals process is administered by legally independent Valuation Appeals Committees – the Government has no locus to intervene in that process. All ratepayers have the right to request an expedited hearing from the Valuation Appeals Committee their case has been lodged with.

“The Barclay Review recommended reforms to the appeals system designed to reduce the need for appealing and to speed up the process. Ministers will shortly be introducing primary legislation with that intention.

“The Scottish Budget delivered a below inflation increase, ensuring that over 90 per cent of properties in Scotland – including 97 per cent of properties in Argyll and Bute - will pay a lower poundage than they would in other parts of the UK.

“The budget also maintained the most generous package of reliefs in the UK, worth over £750 million – including the Small Business Bonus, the unique Business Growth Accelerator, the UK’s first nursery relief and an enhanced 100 per cent fibre broadband relief.”