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Rates relief changes agreed

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Rates relief changes agreed

OWNERS of empty commercial premises will no longer benefit from full rates relief from next year following a change in taxation rules.

Following a repeal of rates relief legislation by the Scottish Government, Dumfries and Galloway Council was expected to revise its non-domestic rates (NDR) empty property relief policy.

At the recent communities committee, councillors voted through changes which will see owners of hundreds of empty commercial properties, listed buildings, and empty pieces of land hit with unexpected bills next year.

From April 1, only a 50 percent discount will be applied on rates relief for empty commercial properties for the first three months, rather than the full amount.

And this amount will be reduced to just a 10 percent discount for the following nine months.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are looking to make contact, following the decision of this committee, with all current empty properties to ensure that we have established the current situation, and advise them of the impact of the change in policy will have on them from April 1 next year.

“This will ensure that any support they require can be sought by them to bring that property back into use before there is a financial impact.”

The committee heard that Aberdeen City Council has already implemented a similar policy, while other local authorities will be following suit this year or next.

Non-domestic rates is a property-based tax for commercial premises, which is billed and collected by each council on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The money generated by non-domestic rates nationally equates to 22 percent of Scottish Government revenue funding. In the last financial year this was £27.7m.

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