Midlothian business rates appeals held-up

Jeremy Balfour MSP.
Jeremy Balfour MSP.

Over 700 businesses across the Midlothian area are still waiting to learn the outcome of their business rates appeals, almost two years after the new valuations were issued.

New Scottish Government figures published last week show that as of December 31 2018, of the 1014 who appealed their revaluation across the area, 753 are still waiting for a decision from the assessor.

That means that only 26 per cent of businesses who appealed have been informed of the assessors decision, leaving a total of £50 million in outstanding rateable value.

Jeremy Balfour, Scottish Conservative List MSP for Lothian said: It is simply unacceptable that over 700 businesses in the Midlothian Council area are still stuck in no man’s land waiting for a decision, almost two years after receiving a new valuation.

“I know from talking to constituents that rate valuations can be the difference between staying in business or going bust. It is as simple as that.

“To leave the livelihoods of hundreds of families uncertain for almost two years demonstrates a total failure of the system, and a total failure of the authorities to support business.

“Time and time again I have raised concerns about the appeals process at Holyrood, only to be told that progress is being made.

“These statistics show very little progress in Midlothian and I will press the authorities to speed up the system and give businesses in the region I represent the certainty they need to continue to trade.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Property valuations are carried out by independent assessors in Scotland. The appeals process is administered by legally independent Valuation Appeals Committees – the Government has no locus to intervene in that process.

“The Barclay Review recommended reforms to the appeals system designed to reduce the need for appealing and to speed up the process. Ministers will shortly be introducing primary legislation with that intention.

“The Scottish Budget delivered a below inflation increase, ensuring that over 90 per cent of properties in Scotland will pay a lower poundage than they would in other parts of the UK.

“The budget also maintained the most generous package of reliefs in the UK, worth over £750 million – including the Small Business Bonus, the unique Business Growth Accelerator, the UK’s first nursery relief and an enhanced 100 per cent fibre broadband relief.”