CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER business rate demands in Moray with a probe by local MSP Douglas Ross revealing that almost half of Moray firms will not receive any rate support.
Mr Ross was the only local representative present at a Holyrood debate on the issue, in which he pressed the minister for local government on the timescale in which appeals would be considered.
It emerged that these can be requested and be determined within 70 days – however, the MSP could not obtain any further information on the issue in the Parliament.
He was highlighting a Scottish Parliament Information Centre report that revealed for Moray, of 4540 business properties 1590 will not be included in the Scottish Government’s relief plan which restricts the rate increase in the first year.
Mr Ross said: “I was pleased to speak about Moray businesses in this debate where I and several MSPs from all parties raised concerns about the impact of business rate increases on local companies.
“While I welcomed the cap on businesses rate increases for the hospitality sector, the figures released from the independent research department in the Scottish Parliament are very disappointing from Moray’s perspective. It’s now clear that almost half of Moray businesses will receive no support to offset their business rate hikes.
“It’s vital for the SNP to provide businesses with the necessary support, otherwise they face the risk of running hard-working businesses into the ground.
“Another element I raised during the debate was the time it takes for appeals to be heard. But we were told by the Minister to stop scaremongering as businesses can have their appeals ‘heard within 70 days.’
“This is a quite astonishing claim from the Local Government Minister given the huge number of appeals that there will be across the country. I’m sure local businesses would be delighted to hear that their appeals will be dealt with in such a short period of time. However, it seems far more likely that this will not be the case.
“Should any businesses have to wait longer than the 70-day period stated so clearly by the Minister, then we know who to blame.
“The question I have for the SNP Government is this – have they provided enough resources to the local assessors to allow them to deal with every appeal within that 70-day timeframe? Because after his promise to Parliament, I will be encouraging local businesses to seek this timeframe for their appeal and they will expect the SNP to find any resources needed to meet the demand.”