Councillors to vote on rates deal

The full council will vote on the rates relief package
The full council will vote on the rates relief package

Councillors are to vote on a package of measures drawn up by Aberdeenshire Council to ease the burden on firms hit by rocketing rises in business rates.

The authority ringfenced £3million last month to be used as rates relief, taking soundings from local businesses on how best to shape the deal.

An outcry over steep increases in rates for this year forced Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to a recently announce a cap on rises.

Aberdeenshire Council meets today (Thursday) to decide on its rates relief proposals.

Council co-Leader Richard Thomson said: “The outcome of the independent business rates revaluation has affected many local businesses.

“It is important that we as a council respond to this.

“The Scottish Government budget settlement has brought very welcome new money to the North-east which as an administration, we chose to allocate for this purpose in our budget which was passed last month.

“We’ve listened to local businesses, examined the evidence, and lobbied hard with the Scottish Government which has since announced a further relief scheme of its own.”

He added: “We are now bringing forward a rates relief scheme which will support over 1,200 Aberdeenshire businesses in the year ahead, and which is complementary to the very substantial range of business rates relief already on offer from the Scottish Government.

“Our scheme is a practical and straightforward response which will target this much needed £3million resource where it can do the most good.

“I hope that councillors across the chamber will match their recent rhetoric on business rates with action by backing this scheme.”

Opposition group leader Jim Gifford said: “The proposals to use the £3 million allocated by the council to partially alleviate the increases inflicted on many businesses may be of benefit but it is a small, one-year sticking plaster on the huge mess created by the Scottish Government.

“Any help that the council can bring forward is useful and will hopefully help many businesses, if even only in the short-term, but we should not be having to pick up the pieces of Derek Mackay’s second tax shambles in a row.”

Last month the Finance Secretary announced that the business rate increase would be capped at 12.5%.