The business rates holiday in Scotland is to be extended for a further 12 months for the hospitality, retail, leisure and aviation sectors.
The Scottish government announced the update to the Scottish Budget yesterday, extending the rates relief until March 31, 2022.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes detailed the measures following confirmation of a further £1.1 billion of consequential funding arising from UK Government coronavirus spending.
At a draft Budget last month, Forbes said the Scottish government would extend the business rates holiday for three months until June 30, 2021. The scheme is due to end on March 31, 2021.
“When I presented the budget last month I was clear, that if resources allowed I would extend 100% non-domestic rates relief for properties in the retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation sectors for all of next year,” she said.
“I am now in a position to provide that certainty to business, meeting the number one ask of the business community and demonstrating our commitment to supporting the economy.”
Forbes also announced an extra £50m for town centres through a ‘place-based investment’ programme, now worth up to £105m.
A further £10m will also be pledged for tourism infrastructure and the tourism industry in rural areas.
UKHospitality Scotland Executive Director Willie Macleod welcomed the ‘positive and pragmatic’ move.
He said: “Extending the rates relief was one of the major requests of the hospitality industry in Scotland. It will provide continued support for hard-pressed businesses and give them breathing room to plan ahead with some more certainty.”
The pressure now builds on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to follow suit and announce similar measures when the lays out the Budget on March 3.
Macleod continues: “Our recovery will be enhanced immeasurably if the UK Government extends the VAT cut for hospitality, giving businesses an even better chance of survival. It will give many employers vital support to keep jobs open and put them in a much stronger position to help lead the economic recovery of Scotland this year.”
John Webber Head of Business Rates at Colliers adds: “Yet again the Scots seem to be leading the way in terms of allocating business rates reliefs to sectors hit hard by the pandemic. We urge the Chancellor to take a similar path when he announces measures in the March 3rd Budget, but also to consider the plight of other sectors badly impacted including offices and manufacturing.”