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Industry calls for business rates freeze to support hospitality sector ahead of ministerial meeting

Industry bodies Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, the Scottish Tourism Association, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Glasgow Restaurant Association and the Chair of the Glasgow Licensing Forum met this week with continued concerns at the upcoming business rates increase and the potentially crippling impact to the city’s hospitality sector. 

The partnership is calling for a freeze on the 1 April business rates increase to support businesses in the licensed trade. 

The call comes ahead of a meeting next week with the Scottish Government’s Finance Minister Derek Mackay MSP and Economy Minister Keith Brown MSP. 

Licensed premises are subject to a different assessment method for determining business rates than other sectors, with a major focus on turnover in calculating the final rateable value. 

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce said: 

“We are calling for a complete freeze on business rates for the licensed trade. 

“Many businesses in the hospitality sector are forecast to be liable for huge increases to their annual business rates which will be extremely damaging to already squeezed margins. 

“The process by which rateable value is calculated for licensed businesses is fundamentally skewed against the sector as turnover doesn’t necessarily reflect company strength or profitability and the 2014/15 figures are unrepresentative of the current climate. 

“All we are asking for is a level playing field which doesn’t pose further challenges for such an important industry – especially at a time when the city has launched a masterplan to attract one million more visitors by 2023. 

“The strength of the leisure economy is fundamental in achieving these ambitions, with the retail and night-time economy contributing £5.46 billion to Glasgow’s economy and sustaining 33,000 full-time jobs.  With new, increased rates scheduled to take effect from April 1, action must be taken urgently. 

“We look forward to our meeting with the Scottish Government next week to discuss opportunities to promptly address to issue, providing support for the sector. 

“In the mean time we continue to encourage businesses to check their new rateable value and to immediately start the appeals process if they are liable for a material increase.”

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