Non-domestic Rates (Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Tom Mason Tom Mason Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government what correspondence it has had with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils regarding the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill. (S5O-03682)

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council both responded to the Scottish Government’s public consultation on the implementation of the Barclay review of non-domestic rates. We are committed to maintaining the consultative and collaborative approach that has been a key feature of our work on the Barclay review, including the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, so should either council have specific issues that it would like to raise with me or my cabinet colleagues, I would be more than happy to speak to it.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Mr Mason, I know that your supplementary will be pertinent.

Photo of Tom Mason Tom Mason Conservative

I hope so. I declare an interest as a councillor on Aberdeen City Council.

The 2017 rates revaluation failed to reflect the downturn in the oil and gas industry and has, as a result, proved to be devastating, with many businesses in the Aberdeen area closing, and the demolition of perfectly viable office blocks in the past two years. In addition, Aberdeen City Council has had to generate—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

No, no, no. You are breaching another of my little golden rules, which is that I like to hear a question.

Photo of Tom Mason Tom Mason Conservative

In that case, will the Government take the opportunity that is provided by the bill and the upcoming budget to ensure a truly fair settlement to our third-largest city?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

We continue to treat local authorities fairly. Had the Government followed the Conservative Party’s budget proposals, that would have meant £17 million less for services for Aberdeen City Council and £24 million less for Aberdeenshire Council. In contrast, we have supported local authorities and we continue to offer support through our small business bonus scheme, which has 2,300 recipients in Aberdeen and 7,300 in Aberdeenshire. That has saved much money for businesses in north-east local authority areas, and will continue to support the crucial work that happens across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It is important to ensure that local authorities are supported and that businesses are supported, as well.

Photo of Maureen Watt Maureen Watt Scottish National Party

Will the cabinet secretary set out how the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill will build on the transitional relief that is received by offices and by all but the largest hospitality businesses in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, and how the bill will ensure a fair rates deal for all businesses in the north-east by moving to three-yearly revaluation, which will mean that the rating system can respond better to economic change?

Photo of Aileen Campbell Aileen Campbell Scottish National Party

Absolutely. That is part and parcel of why the bill is so critical, and why my colleague Kate Forbes continues to take that work through the Parliament. We will continue to ensure that we do as the Barclay review set out. We will continue to be consultative, and we will continue to collaborate with our local authority colleagues and others in order to move the system forward in a more agile way that responds to need in particular areas across the country.