Ex-RBS chief to lead business rates review

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that former chair of RBS Scotland, Ken Barclay, will lead the Scottish Government’s review of business rates.

Sturgeon also committed to retaining the small business bonus scheme until at least 2021.

She told Federation of Small Businesses’ annual conference that “we intend to keep our promise that Scotland will be the best place to do business anywhere in the UK.”

Barclay will consider how business rates might better support business growth, respond to wider economic conditions and changing marketplaces and support long-term growth and investment.

“When this government came into office, we created the small business bonus,” said Sturgeon.

“As a result almost 100,000 small business premises in Scotland now pay zero or reduced rates. In total, since 2008, the small business bonus scheme has saved businesses more than one billion pounds.

“However for all the success of the small business bonus, we know that some aspects of the business rate system are still a source of concern for some of you.

“The FSB’s manifesto, for example, argues that the current system can sometimes discourage investment, and that it should be simplified.

“So there may well be a case for making changes — but that case needs to be considered carefully and the needs of all ratepayers must be balanced.

“That’s why the Deputy First Minister announced in December that the Scottish Government would review business rates. We want to ensure that the system is as fair and effective as possible.”

Sturgeon said the review of business rates should be completed by summer 2017.

“Firstly the intention of the review will be to make recommendations which, overall, are revenue neutral,” she added.

“This is not an exercise in increasing overall tax revenue, it is about ensuring taxation is fair.”

Barclay said: “I am delighted to accept the invitation to chair this important piece of work.

“This will be a detailed examination of the Scottish business rates system and I look forward to listening to the businesses who pay rates to hear their views.

“My aim is to identify a series of recommendations that seek to enhance and reform the system to better support business growth and reflect the economic importance of rates and changing marketplaces.”