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Bonus scheme changes could boost small firms

Shops in Dundee city centre could become more viable after changes in the small business rates bonus scheme.
Shops in Dundee city centre could become more viable after changes in the small business rates bonus scheme.

Proposed changes to the Small Business Bonus Scheme could be “a shot in the arm” for small businesses that are the lifeblood of a growing economy, a property expert said.

Adam Hutcheson, director of Westport Properties in Dundee, said the scheme can also be a boon for small-scale commercial property owners in Tayside and Fife.

He appreciated some consequences of the reform of Scotland’s business rates system are negative.

Soaring rates bills faced by many hospitality enterprises after revaluation, and 90% rates bills on longer-term empty commercial properties, are clearly not welcome.

“There is good and bad, but the proposed changes to the scheme could have a tremendously positive impact on small businesses in this area,” he said.

The scheme can eliminate or substantially reduce the business rates of eligible small businesses.

For the year 2017-18 it has been proposed that the 100% business rates relief rateable value threshold should be raised from £10,000 to £15,000.

For rateable value of £15,001 to £18,000 in 2017-18 the relief would be 25%.
For 2016-17, 50% relief applied to rateable values from £10,001 to £12,000, and 25% from 12,001 to £18,000.

In 2017-18, those with more than one business property with a combined rateable value of between £18,001 and £35,000, would receive 25% relief on each individual property with a rateable value of under £18,000.

Not only has the potential saving increased, the number of premises that may qualify for total relief next year will dramatically increase with the raising of the 100% relief threshold.

Mr Hutcheson estimated that the maximum annual saving for business owners will rise from £4,840 to £6,990.

He said: “Business commentators place much of the credit for our growing economy on the start-up sector.

“The expansion of small businesses and the rate of start-ups has been the highest ever seen in recent years,” he added.

“According to the Federation of
Small Businesses there were a record 5.5 million private-sector businesses
at the start of 2016, an increase of
two million more since 2000.

“The number of employing businesses increased by 14,000 and the number of sole trader/self-employed businesses by 84,000, with the annual growth being around +3%.”

He added: “Small business operators as well as small-scale commercial property owners will receive a shot in the arm as a result of the increase in small business relief thresholds.”

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