Incentives for town centres welcomed

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Local SNP MSP Adam Ingram has welcomed the news that the Scottish Government intends to revitalise Scotland’s town centres through the introduction of incentives to potentially bring up to 5,500 business properties back into use.

Empty Property Relief is being reformed as part of a wider review of business rates this summer and this reform will include measures to incentivise owners of vacant premises to bring them back into commercial use.

Under the current system of Empty Property Relief the Scottish Government would have provided approximately £757m of business rates subsidies, over the period 2010-15, to owners of business premises who have failed to find occupants. The new reforms will reduce this subsidy by £36m and aims to encourage maximum occupancy of Scotland’s town centres, linking to the Regeneration and Town Centre Strategies.

Commenting on the news Mr Ingram said:

“The Scottish Government and the enterprise agencies are working to ensure Scotland retains its reputation as the most competitive place to do business in the UK - an important part of this is reviewing our business rates to reflect the current economic challenges and opportunities.

“The current system of empty property relief is not working and there is a need to incentivise owners of business premises to find occupants - not to keep the shop doors shut. This is a particular problem in Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley where local traders are frustrated in their efforts by absentee landlords who show little interest.

“In these tough economic conditions, it is important that business rate reliefs maximise opportunities to create sustainable economic growth and allow Scotland to retain its position as the most supportive business environment anywhere in the UK.

“The SNP Government is focused on supporting Scotland’s business community. We have retained the small business bonus scheme, which has either eliminated or substantially reduced business rates for two out of every five commercial properties in Scotland, and even after proposed reform, empty property relief will remain significantly more generous than that offered in England and Wales.”