The Scottish Government is to postpone the next round of revaluations for the purposes of calculating business rates until 2017. Finance Secretary John Swinney made the announcement as he set out how much funding Scottish local authorities would receive over financial year 2013-14. He also announced a three-month consultation exercise on the future of business rates, intended to create a more "user-friendly and transparent" system. Among the proposals considered in the consultation is whether local authorities should be given the flexibility to introduce and fund "relief schemes" to reflect local circumstances. Rates and reliefs are currently set centrally, meaning that councils are unable to introduce rate reduction schemes to boost local priorities.
Business rates are charged on most non-domestic premises including shops, offices, warehouses and factories. Owners of vacant offices and shops in Scotland currently receive a 50% discount, or 'relief', on their business rates liability, while owners of industrial properties and listed buildings receive 100% relief. From April 2013, the 50% relief will be cut to 10% after three months, although empty industrial properties and listed buildings will continue to receive 100% relief.