CBRE calls for rates freeze in Scotland

Leading real estate advisor, CBRE, is urging Finance Secretary Shona Robison to freeze headline business rates in today’s budget.

Tony Rosenthal, a Senior Director in CBRE’s rating team, said: “We are asking the Scottish government not to bow to inflationary pressures and to freeze the current poundage rate – which is already at a 24 year high – from April 2024.

“The Chancellor announced an inflation indexed increase of 6.7% to the Universal Business Rate (UBR) in England. This increase is significantly higher than we’re used to historically and is a lot of additional money for companies to find, particularly if they operate from multiple premises.

“A similar rise here would be disastrous for many Scottish businesses which are trying to find their feet again after the pandemic, and would make it even harder to compete with counterparts in England.”

CBRE is also adding to the growing number of voices urging the Scottish Government to reintroduce rates relief for hospitality businesses. Hospitality, retail and leisure businesses in England have benefitted from 75% relief on their business rates for the past year, with the measure extended for a further year in the recent Autumn Statement.

Moira Gordon, a Director in CBRE’s rating team, said: “At the moment, the hospitality sector is being supported by festive celebrations but early 2024 will be tough for many operators.

“Scottish Government must recognise that assistance through RHL (Retail, Hospitality and Leisure) relief could be the difference between leisure operators remaining open or having to close permanently. Businesses are still recovering from the pandemic, and they now have soaring energy, food and labour costs. To compound matters, many consumers don’t have the surplus in their pockets to spend on leisure activities, as they may have done before.

“CBRE would like to see a RHL mechanism that is as generous as that offered in England. These businesses need meaningful financial assistance.”