NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Software update delays business rate cap

Business rates bills issued in the north east of Scotland did not include a 12.5% cap promised by the Scottish government due to a software update.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced in February that firms in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire's hospitality and office sectors would benefit from the cap.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils are awaiting the necessary software.

Revised bills are expected to be issued following the software update.

An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said: "Although the announcement by the finance secretary was made in late February, the actual legislation to confirm the rates relief scheme was not issued until 17 March which was too late for us, like other local authorities, to have system functionality written, agreed, tested and implemented by the time Business Rates bills were due to be issued in April.

"Business Rates bills were issued on 11 April and it was considered the best option to issue bills to ratepayers as soon as possible to allow them to subsequently apply for relief if this was appropriate.

"Any payment made in May based on a 'gross' amount will be taken into account when the reduced instalment amounts are calculated."

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "Business rates have always been administered by local authorities, along with any software required to process them.

"The detail of this relief has been known since mid-March, and we continue to work with local councils to support them in processing applications and reflecting the relief in final rates bills."

Rateable values are changing for the first time since 2010 after a national revaluation by the Scottish Assessors' Association.

Businesses in the north east have complained they are being hit particularly hard because the valuations predated the slump in the price of oil which had an impact on the local economy.

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