James Barnes, HTA Chairman, and Gerald Eve, the HTA’s preferred partner on rating advice in Scotland, recently attended the Scottish Ratepayers Forum as part of the ongoing campaign to tackle the rates issues faced by garden centres in Scotland.
The Scottish Ratepayers Forum is the key platform for trade associations and surveyors to represent businesses in Scotland to the Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) and Scottish Government on the Non-Domestic Rating system in Scotland.
Recently Gerald Eve has successfully agreed on an amendment with the SAA on the practice notes for garden centres for the 2017 revaluation.
The SAA has now adopted the Net Internal Area as the basis of measurement rather than Gross External Areas, as well as introducing more flexibility in the range of categorisation of garden centres - which could lead to garden centres saving significantly on their rates.
Barry McEwan, Partner, Gerald Eve said: “The changes to the Practice Notice for the 2017 revaluation is welcome news for garden centres in Scotland.
“This has already led to many garden centres recently being successful in their appeals, however, due to the coronavirus there has been a slowdown in the appeals processes and there are still many garden centres that are yet to have their appeals finalised.
“We are continuing to take forward their appeals and hope that our successful renegotiation of the practice notice will continue to save money for the garden centres that we represent.”
The coronavirus lockdown has also led to a number of emerging issues in relation to Scottish Rates which the HTA and Gerald Eve will be tackling going forward.
James Barnes, Chairman, HTA said: “The agreement from the SAA to alter the 2017 practice notes is a positive one for our industry and we are optimistic that this will continue to benefit many of our members who are still waiting on their 2017 appeals.
“The coronavirus lockdown and the high valuation of garden centres in Scotland means that many of our members are missing out on emergency grants of up to £25,000.
“The grants are only eligible for garden centres with a rateable value of below £51,000. We are greatly concerned that a number of businesses who on appeal could be rated below this limit will still miss out on the grants due to the Scottish Government rules.
“The Scottish Government’s decision to not extend these grants to garden centres who are rated below £51,000 on appeal is cutting off otherwise eligible businesses from vital funding at an unprecedented time for our sector.
“At the Scottish Ratepayers Forum this week I pushed the Scottish Government to urgently reconsider their position.
“We have asked the Scottish Government to reconsider the appropriateness of the ‘tone date’ for the 2022 revaluation and have requested it to be moved to a time that will better reflect the position of the market in light of the lockdown.
“Further to this, we have requested that the 1.6% rates relief this financial year due to COVID-19, reversing the planned increase in poundage, becomes permanent.
“We will continue to partner with organisations such as Gerald Eve to tackle issues with the business rates system in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.”