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Highland Council urged to take advantage of new business rates powers

Following the news that local authorities are to be granted further powers to reduce business rates at a local level, Caithness Chamber of Commerce is urging the Highland Council to take full advantage of these powers to make life easier for business owners.

Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “We welcome the announcement that local authorities are to be given greater discretion to reduce rates bills based on criteria of their own choosing.

“Business rates have long been an issue of concern for local businesses, and we would urge Highland Council to act swiftly to make life easier for business owners in Caithness, and to help attract new investment into our towns.

“We are aware that the Council is in the process of a rates revaluation exercise, but this is not due to be implemented until 2017. In the meantime, businesses are under pressure as a result of the invariance between rates and rental values, which dropped significantly as a result of the recent recession.

“With these new powers, Highland Council will have the ability to deliver targeted support which will have a real impact on businesses and help to stimulate growth in local economies, and we would urge them to take full advantage of this from 31st October when these powers are granted.

“While this is undoubtedly a positive step, we would also join our colleagues in Scottish Chambers of Commerce in noting that the current system of business rates in Scotland is not serving businesses well, and calling for a fundamental review of the rating system within the context of the Scottish Parliament’s widening powers over taxation.”