Call for SNP to help businesses hit by rocketing rates

Peter Chapman MSP has joined his Conservative colleagues in calling for SNP to help businesses hit by rocketing rates.
Peter Chapman MSP has joined his Conservative colleagues in calling for SNP to help businesses hit by rocketing rates.

The Scottish Conservatives have called on SNP Ministers to set up a fund for North East councils to provide transitional relief for businesses hit by rocketing rates.

Companies in Aberdeenshire are facing enormous increases in non-domestic rates (NDR) bills following a 2015 revaluation completed before the full impact of the downturn in the local economy affected the commercial property market.

Official government figures have shown that local publicans are facing rises in their bills of up to 259%, while oil service companies are similarly looking at increases of up to 218%.

The cumulative total for North East firms will run to millions of pounds, prompting warnings that some businesses could go bankrupt as a result.

Comparative figures for the rest of the UK show that increases in the North East far outstrip those facing other parts of Scotland and almost every region in England.

The team of five Scottish Conservative MSPs for the North East have called upon the SNP government to work with local councils to offset the huge rates rises.

In a joint statement, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett and North East Region MSPs Ross Thomson, Peter Chapman, Liam Kerr and Bill Bowman, said: “These are eye-watering increases - in some cases more than 250% - and it is difficult to see how some businesses will be able to cope.

"We know that these valuations are based on 2015 figures, before the full impact of the oil downturn affected the commercial property market in the city.

"But comparisons with other parts of the UK show that Aberdeen will be hit harder than almost any other city in the country, and certainly more than anywhere else in Scotland.

"We are calling for the Scottish Government to work with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils to provide some form of transitional relief for businesses that will struggle to cover these increases.

"It is no exaggeration to say that failure to do so could see some companies going to the wall.

"Given the well-documented difficulties in the local economy, the Scottish Government must step in to prevent further job losses at a time when thousands of posts have already been cut.”