28th August 2017

Glasgow-based RBH has joined members of the Scottish business community in calling for the recommendations of an independent review of the nation's business rates system to be adopted by the Scottish Government.

RBH - the UK's leading independent hotel management company - oversees a portfolio of more than 45 properties - 15 of which are in Scotland. Earlier in 2017, its Chief Financial Officer David Hart outlined what he saw as the "core issue" with non-domestic rates and called for "fundamental reform" of the system.

Now, Stuart Houston, Director of Finance at RBH, is offering his reaction to the recommendations of this week's review by Kenneth Barclay.

He said: "We have been vocal in our opposition to the current business rates system north of the border and there are several positives to be drawn from the recent Barclay Review."

"For us, the core issue has been the perception that the revaluing system is non-transparent and favours a one-size fits-all approach.

"The new recommendations would go some way towards redressing these concerns. Indeed, the call for short-term measures to make better information on rates available to ratepayers, and a medium term measure to ensure assessors provide more transparency and consistency of approach, would be beneficial to the hospitality sector and all ratepayers alike.

"Other measures which we would particularly welcome are the Business Growth Accelerator and the reduction of large business supplement.

"A 12-month delay in introducing rates to new properties and in newly expanded or improved properties would further incentivise our investment partners by allowing them to realise a return on capital spend before incurring additional costs.

"What's more, with our entire Scottish estate subject to large business supplement at present, a reduction in this would remove the current additional cost burden for our owners trading in Scotland, aligning us with other areas of the UK.

"While the Business Growth Accelerator wouldn't be viable until 2018-19 and the large business supplement reduction taking longer still, we still welcome the recommendations and call for the Scottish Government to seriously consider their implementation."

Meanwhile, the company has cited reservations over the suggested introduction of three yearly revaluations from 2022, but recognises the call for this to be implemented in tandem with reforms to the appeal system.

Stuart added: "Longer revaluation periods offer greater certainty for longer term investment decisions but, if the necessary changes are made to the appeal system, this is not a wholly unfeasible reaction to the changeable current market.

"What we didn't necessarily see in the report was a call for a more bespoke approach to be adopted by evaluators towards sectors like hospitality, which are arguably at a disadvantage under the current system.

"In short, we see the recommendations of the Barclay Review as a positive step, but would urge further changes still."