Parliamentary Bureau Motions

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd December 2020.

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Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

I will make a little progress and then I will come back to Ms Boyack.

I understand why the change is being proposed. The minister will tell us that the Government’s concern is that, if we were to reassess the figures any earlier, the result would not be truly reflective of conditions in the market, due to the coronavirus pandemic. I expect that the minister will also tell us that pushing back the revaluation will allow current and post-Covid trading to be assessed, and it will allow time for the vaccine to do its thing, people to get back on the high street and sales to stabilise.

I get that, but that does not work when set against the principles that the minister will claim to be working to. It does not work because the whole point of the Barclay review of rates was to design a rates system that directly responds to changing market conditions. These are the changing market conditions, so any delay to the revaluation, as per the order, runs counter to the flagship recommendation for more frequent, not less frequent, assessments.

Furthermore, members will be aware that the Scottish Government recently introduced legislation to further constrain appeals on the grounds of material change in circumstances, which will only really work in a context in which there are more regular revaluations. If the order to push back the next reassessment is approved today, after we have removed those crucial grounds of appeal, it will be the perfect storm for many businesses. In other words, the order will bring in a one-size-fits-all solution that does not fit all—it certainly does not fit the north-east.