A SUMMIT MEETING between the Grampian Assessor and local MSP Richard Lochhead is to be held today over the business revaluation process.
Mr Lochhead will meet with Ian Milton to raise concerns of businesses – in particular those in Lossiemouth who are facing disproportionate rises in their rates when compared to similar traders in others parts of Moray.
The MSP says that he will also be pushing for a fast-tracking system for appeals from those businesses facing the highest increases – currently it can take up to three years for the process to be complete, during which time business have to pay the new rates.
That, it has been claimed, will push several out of business altogether as the emergency 12.5% cap on rates only applies to a few businesses in Moray and even then is limited to the first year only.
Speaking ahead of today’s meeting, Mr Lochhead said: “In recent weeks I’ve met with many local businesses who are concerned about the scale of the rates increases they’re facing.
“Thankfully, those in the hospitality sector who were being hit particularly hard – with some facing hikes of over 200% – have seen a 12.5% cap put in place by the Scottish Government, which I know is very welcome in Moray.
“However, there are some Moray businesses outwith the hospitality sector who are still facing hefty increases and I know from having met with the Lossiemouth Business Association that there’s evidence to suggest that Lossie businesses are being disproportionally hit.
“I’ll be raising those concerns with the Assessor when I meet with him, as well as pushing for a priority system to be introduced for appeals for those businesses still facing large increases.
“In the meantime, I would encourage any business concerned about their proposed valuation to contact the Assessors to discuss their case before March 15 when final valuations will be published.
“Moray Council does of course have the option of introducing a local rates relief scheme for those still affected, as other local authorities have done including Aberdeenshire. A local rate relief package would of course be much more affordable as it would only need to be for businesses not benefitting from the Scottish Government’s package.”