NEW rates changes coming into force in April will help stimulate the economy and improve transparency, the Scottish Government has said.
From April 1, 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.
The changes were announced last September following the Barclay review of business rates.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay marked the start of the new policies by visiting The Orchard Nursery in Edinburgh.
He said: “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.”
The Scottish Government said the relief for nurseries was designed to support nursery provision throughout Scotland by reducing overheads for nursery owners, saving the sector around £6 million next year.
Orchard Nursery owner Vicky Coia welcomed the changes.
She 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 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) 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.”
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