23/08/2017 – Chief Officer of STP, Phil Prentice, stated this morning that the Barclay Review into Scottish business rates was a “positive” exercise and that he is broadly “comfortable” with proposals relating to town centre retail. The comments were made in an invited interview on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland (1.41.55). 

The Barclay Review of the Scottish business rates system was published yesterday. As the BBC reported, one of its proposals was for “targeted reductions in bills to help retain shops in town centres”. The review was met with a range of reactions from interest groups, government, and political parties.

In his GMS interview this morning, Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, began by explaining that STP is the umbrella organisation for ‘all things towns’ and that business rates are of importance across its diverse membership.  

Mr Prentice said that STP had engaged closely with the review, and that he was broadly “comfortable” with the proposals put forward in relation to towns, explaining: “within the confines of the review, I think it’s actually very positive and creates some positive conditions to allow town centres to flourish”.

STP’s Chief Officer also put the proposals into context by recalling that around 100,000 retailers in town centres are exempt from paying business rates under the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

Further actions to support small businesses have been taken by the Scottish Government as part of the Town Centre Action Plan, first implemented in 2013, in response to the “perfect storm” for towns created by the recession, austerity and changing retail patterns. In relation to this, the Barclay Review had picked up that the current system of rates relief should be to be evaluated to see whether the tapers or length or relief need adjusted to make sure that everyone is paying a fair share.

The discussion ended on the topic of charity retail, and whether such shops should continue to receive current levels of relief in relation to other retailers.

The Scottish Government, which commissioned the Barclay Review, has stated it will “respond swiftly to its recommendations.”

Interview source: BBC Good Morning Scotland (1.41.55). 

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