Boycott threat from Dundee firm owner over business rates hikes

© PA
Some businesses have threatened to boycott the hikes to their business rates.

The owner of a small Dundee firm who faces a tripling of his business rates says he is ready to boycott the tax hike.

Sebastian Nonis, from Forfar Road service station, is due a 220% rise to his rates bill in April – from £15,000 to £48,000 a year.

Mr Nonis said he is “more than happy” to join any uprising against the tax, adding: “I will pay what I can I afford to pay and I cannot afford this increase. There is no point paying what you cannot pay.”

His boycott threat follows a similar warning from the owner of Aberdeen’s Marcliffe Hotel, which is a haunt of former first minister Alex Salmond.

From April, many businesses are facing huge increases in business rates through a draft revaluation of the rental worth of premises carried out by Scottish Assessors in 2015, when the economy was in ruder health.

Those values are multiplied against a figure set by the Scottish Government known as the poundage, which is currently set just below £0.47.

Alison Henderson, from Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, said she would not advocate a boycott because of repercussions, but said it is inevitable some firms are considering it given the “massive increases” they face.

Marc Crothall, from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said he and other trade associations are due to meet Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and Economy Secretary Keith Brown on Wednesday as he condemned their failure to act.

He said “at the very least” the SNP ministers must declare a “stay of execution” on the hikes until a government review is complete and a fairer revaluation process is in place.

Jackie Baillie, for Scottish Labour, said public services are at risk too after health chiefs last year warned that the rates increase could cost NHS Scotland up to £30m.

The Scottish Conservative Murdo Fraser said: “From the very start, the SNP’s response has been to pass the buck and insist it is nothing to do with them.”

Mr Mackay said: “Next year, across Scotland, more than half of premises will pay no rates, 70% will pay either no or less rates than they do currently and the total package of reliefs we are offering will increase to more than £600 million.

“Additionally, this year we have increased the threshold for the large business supplement, meaning that 8,000 fewer premises will pay it.”