Business rates changes planned
Published by Simon Gwynn on Tue 02 Oct 12 @ 14:55
Plans to help bring empty high street properties into use have been put forward by the Local Government Minister Derek Mackay.
Under the proposals new occupants of shops or offices that have been empty for at least a year will be able to apply for a fifty per cent discount on their business rates for 12 months.
The "Fresh Start" scheme will help to rejuvenate our high streets by helping owners and landlords fill empty properties as well as encouraging business start-ups by reducing business rates bills.
Speaking ahead of his appearance at the Local Government and Regeneration committee last week where he proposed an amendment to the Unoccupied Properties Bill to support the introduction of the scheme, Mr Mackay said:
"I want to see local high streets across Scotland thriving and empty properties brought back into use across the country.
"As part of the most competitive rates regime in the UK I believe it is important we take action, during tough times, to encourage people to set up shop, open up premises and start new businesses in our unused buildings.
"By offering a fifty per cent discount to anyone bringing a shop or office that has been empty for twelve months or more back into use this scheme will help to bring businesses back to our high streets and give empty properties a fresh start.
"In these challenging economic times, it is important that we ensure business rate reliefs maximise opportunities and allow Scotland to retain its position as the most supportive business environment anywhere in the UK.
"These proposals will give start-up companies the chance to
utilise properties that were previously outwith their means as well
as providing support where expanding business move into larger
"The plans also support our efforts to regenerate the high streets across Scotland where property can sit empty for years, blighting a community. We need to get these buildings back into use, for example by encouraging community groups and others to occupy them and by reducing rates we can help this happen. This is central to the work we are taking forward jointly with the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.
"I will continue to listen to a wide range of stakeholders on our proposed reforms and I have emphasised that there is flexibility on our approach - we are open to ideas on how we can maximise opportunities to regenerate our town centres.
"We are also considering wider measures as part of our National Review of Town Centres, which got underway in Kilmarnock today chaired by prominent Edinburgh architect Malcolm Fraser."
It is intended the new relief will begin on 1 April 2013 and anyone interested in starting a business in an empty shop or office should contact their council next year to discuss.