Scottish golf clubs could be hit by major business rates changes

Emma Williams
By Emma Williams September 8, 2017 14:50

A proposal to change the way organisations in Scotland pay business rates could have a major impact on the golf industry.

This warning comes as Scottish golf clubs have just a few days left to appeal the latest ratings valuations which saw many face large hikes.

Presently in Scotland several private members’ golf clubs, including ones with considerable assets, along with some independent schools and universities, receive rate relief, but a review commissioned by the Scottish government last year and headed up by Ken Barclay, former head of Scottish operations for RBS, has called for bigger golf clubs to be brought fully under the business rates system.

“Rates relief for golf clubs should be reviewed to ensure they support affordable community-based facilities rather than private members’ clubs,” said a spokesman.

Smaller clubs could also be hit as, for example, arm’s-length external organisations (ALEOs), which run some municipal golf courses in Scotland, are accorded charitable status but the report claims this gives them an ‘unfair advantage’ over private sector businesses offering similar services and they should have to pay business rates.

For some golf clubs, their business rates bill is the second biggest cost they face, after staff pay.

The review has been taking place while Scottish businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector, have expressed outrage over a huge hike in business rates earlier this year. Some businesses complained they would go to the wall when their tax bills went up by thousands of pounds and, unlike the rest of the UK, they were given just six months to appeal.

In response to the outcry, the government imposed a 15 per cent cap on increases for hospitality firms.

Now golf clubs are being warned not to miss the boat to secure fair rating values, as the appeals deadline is September 30, 2017.

Louise Daly, associate director of rating at Colliers International in Scotland, said: “Given the extremely restrictive nature of mid-valuation roll appeals in Scotland, ratepayers have a relatively short opportunity to submit a revaluation appeal and dispute any or all aspects of the valuation that were set from April 1, 2017.”


Emma Williams
By Emma Williams September 8, 2017 14:50
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