Following concerted efforts by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and other industry groups to retain the UBR and national rates relief, the association welcomes Holyrood’ s decision to retain both.
SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said that while the current system still has major problems for Scotland’s pubs and bars, the scrapping of the current uniform business rate (UBR) system would have been a disaster for the industry.
He warned that more still needs to be done to bring a more balanced and fairer distribution of the rates burden for all businesses, particularly the hospitality and licensed trade sector.
“Hospitality and licensed businesses lie at the heart of communities, bring vibrancy and security to high streets and generate significant direct, indirect and induced economic benefits, not least being the employment of over 275,000 people,” said Wilkinson.
“The hospitality and licensed sector believes that it is disadvantaged by the current valuation approach, which is essentially based on turnover, and that it is unfair and uncompetitive compared to other business sectors and, indeed, to similar businesses in other parts of the UK.
“The demise of the high street is growing and if the hospitality and licensed trade sector is to remain a part of the high street action must be taken now.”
He added: “The Barclay Review on rates was not mandated to conduct a root-and-branch review of business rates and was a missed opportunity to deliver major reform of non-domestic rates.
“While there are positive outcomes from the Barclay Review, the SLTA is of the view that these outcomes are simply tinkering at the margins of a system that takes no account of ability to pay and is widely considered to be broken, not just by the hospitality and licensed sector but by other business sectors too.
“The Scottish Government needs to go further on the whole issues of commercial rates and it need to do it now.”