Shepherd calls for rating appeals to be lodged due to COVID-19 crisis

Shepherd Chartered Surveyors has called for rating appeals to be lodged and ideally to be backdated to 4 March 2020 as a result of a material change of circumstances arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Shepherd calls for rating appeals to be lodged due to COVID-19 crisis

Gary Louttit, head of hospitality & leisure at Shepherd

The firm is currently working flat out lodging new appeals against rating assessments on the basis that the current health crisis together with the consequent advice and statements issued by government bodies has resulted in a material change of circumstances which has had an abnormal, significant and ongoing impact on the value of most, if not all, commercial properties, and particularly those in the hospitality and licensed trade sector.

Gary Louttit, head of hospitality & leisure at Shepherd, said: “We think that the effective date for these appeals should be the 4th March, when the government first talked of ‘social distancing’. This resulted almost immediately in a significant downturn in trade for most bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels.

“To be able to have such appeals backdated to 4th March, all such appeals must be lodged before 1st April, although appeals on this basis can still be lodged on or after 1st April. We think that appeals lodged on this basis have a very strong chance of success and would recommend that all commercial ratepayers give urgent consideration to instructing appeals to be submitted.”

The Scottish Government has made a number of changes to non-domestic rates in Scotland for 2020-21 in response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19.

All non-domestic properties in Scotland will receive 1.6% rates relief, which effectively reverses the change in the poundage rate for 2020-21. This relief will be automatically applied to rates bills.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will receive 100% rates relief for the coming financial year, 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Mr Louttit added: “The Scottish government is working with Scotland’s 32 councils to ensure this relief is administered in the most effective way. Operators can get this relief even if they already get another relief on the property.”

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a Rateable Value between £18,001 up to and including £50,999 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. And a one-off grant of £10,000 will be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme relief or Rural relief.

This grant will also be available to properties in receipt of Nursery Relief or Disabled Relief, but only if eligible for Small Business Bonus Scheme relief.

Mr Louttit continued: “Operators can only apply for one grant, even if they have multiple properties. Most of Scotland’s 32 councils now have links on their websites to allow for applications for these grants to be made and payments are to be made where appropriate within 10 working days.

“If operators are struggling to pay their non-domestic rates bill, they should contact their council. The situation is fast moving and may change. We are monitoring any changes made or proposed by the Scottish Government.”

Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.

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