Following an inspired SNP campaign, tens of thousands of businesses across Scotland will continue to benefit from vital rates relief put in place by the SNP Government.
Reliefs would have been lost following a Green amendment, supported by the Tories and Labour which devolved non-domestic rates to Councils, a move that meant relief abolition.
Kenneth Gibson MSP and his two SNP colleagues were the only Members to vote against the harmful amendment.
Tory and Labour MSPs belatedly realised their mistake, made a U-turn and voted to support the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill at Stage 3.
The gross rates bill for North Ayrshire in 2019/20 is £56 million. The total value of reliefs in 2019/20 is £13.6 million, of which only £170,000 is funded by the Council, the rest coming from the SNP Government. Relief support across Scotland this year was £308 million.
The Bill implements changes recommended by the independent Barclay Review, such as three year revaluations and improved anti-avoidance and debt recovery powers for councils.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“The potential loss of Rates Reliefs has been a worry since opposition Committee members voted for it and I know the 3,040 businesses in North Ayrshire who benefit from them will be greatly pleased that this folly is not proceeding.
“Labour and the Tories made a U-turn, pressed by repeated calls from the SNP Government, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and 27 business organisations such as the Scottish Retail Consortium, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) and Federation of Small Businesses.
“The majority of the reforms laid down in the new bill have been widely welcomed by businesses and councils alike. They will modernise the system, tackle tax avoidance and address long term frustrations with the appeals system as well as protecting vital business rates relief offered by the SNP Government.”
The Bill delivers measures to support growth, improve administration and increase fairness including:
A one year tone date to ensure rateable values are more up to date and accurate
Systemic reforms to the appeals system
Greater information gathering powers for assessors and councils
Provides stronger anti-avoidance powers to councils
Earlier debt recovery powers for councils
Removing the eligibility for charitable relief from mainstream independent schools.