SCOTTISH Government business rates policy will cost taxpayers north of the Border nearly £63 million more than their counterparts in England, new figures have shown.

In response to a parliamentary question from Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP Liz Smith, Scottish ministers have disclosed that the different approach to rates policy between Scotland and England will cost taxpayers north of the Border £62.75 million in the 2024/25 financial year.

The figures were released after the Scottish Government increased the intermediary and higher property rates in line with inflation when the next financial year begins in April, as part of its Budget for 2024-25, which was passed last week. The rates, which are applied to non-domestic properties with rateable values between £51,001 and £100,000, and those valued above £100,000, will rise to 54.5p and 55.9p respectively, although the basic property rate will remain unchanged at 49.8p.

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Commenting on the figures, David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium said: “Shops and other businesses liable for the higher property rate in Scotland continue to pay more than their counterparts in England, to the tune of £63m annually. This discrepancy is set to continue for a ninth consecutive year from April, four years past the timeline recommended by the government’s own Barclay Rates Review.

“Medium-sized and larger stores across Scotland underpin the vitality of our town and city centres and employ the majority of retail workers. This higher business rate makes it more expensive to operate a shop on our high streets and retail destinations. It holds back commercial investment and hampers retailers’ ability to become more productive.

“We remain baffled as to why Scottish ministers think stores and other businesses operating in Scotland are better placed to be stumping up more in rates than firms in England. We need to see ministers commit to restoring the level playing field with England and delivering it at a faster pace.”

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The SRC noted that recent responses to parliamentary questions revealed the higher property surcharge applies to 11,670 commercial and industrial premises in Scotland. Of this some 2,410 are shops, 590 are hotels, 1,770 are offices, and 190 are pubs. It said the retail sector is liable for £9.7m of this annual surcharge.