An Aberdeen company director facing a business rates increase of 300% has called on national and local government to stop pointing the finger at one another.
Sean McMillan, director of SS Autovalet which operates out of Union Square shopping centre, applied to Aberdeen City Council’s transitional relief scheme which saw his bill reduced to a 12.5% increase for the past 12 months.
But the scheme, which cost the council £4.1 million, will only run until the end of March and now he faces a hike of 300% from around £10,000 before the rates revaluation on April 1, 2017 to £40,000.
Mr McMillan said it “defies logic” the council would opt to scrap the scheme with “little to no material change” in economic circumstances for the majority of businesses and a continued wait of up to three years for revaluation appeals.
But he also criticised Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for the “remarkably limited scope” of his national relief scheme which sees hospitality and office accommodation continue to benefit from a rates cap of 12.5%.
Mr McMillan said: “Unless national and local government stop pointing the finger of fiscal responsibility at one another, and instead start thinking about the majority of companies that won’t benefit from the government scheme, next month’s business rates increases will inevitably be the catalyst for even more dismal economic news, in the form of both additional job losses and the shuttering of more local businesses.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “It is shocking that Mr McMillan and others have to wait so long for their appeal to be heard.
“The SNP Government continues to let down businesses in Aberdeen.
“Aberdeen City Council is the lowest-funded council and therefore receives the worst funding settlement from the SNP government.
“While as an administration we want to support businesses, we cannot cut front-line services.”
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said he has been in contact with Mr McMillan for around a year and was pleased when the council “finally agreed” to put relief in place last year to help support his business.
He added: “No such commitments are in place this year and it is understandably a cause of real concern.
“I’ve made contact with the rates assessor to try and get some answers for Mr McMillan and will continue to offer him any help I can.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We provide the most competitive rates relief in the UK, worth around £720m, including the targeted measures for businesses in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which alone lifts 100,000 properties out of rates altogether.
“Under the Community Empowerment Act 2015 councils have the flexibility to create their own local rate relief schemes, should they choose to do so.”