Hospitality sector can’ t give a warm welcome to shambolic review
You couldn’t make it up!
On the day the long-awaited Barclay Review Of Business Rates was finally published, billionaire US President Donald Trump was given a £110,000 property tax rebate for his luxury hotel in Turnberry.
He was benefitting from a Scottish Government scheme set up to help “small businesses”.
It was an emergency scheme intended to help firms from the hospitality sector who were being clattered by a very unfair rates valuation system.
The news had many shaking their heads in horror.
Not me – I actually burst out laughing at the irony.
Regardless of your views on Donald Trump, whether you feel he shouldn’t be given a groat let alone a 110 grand, he is an accomplished businessman, a major investor and employer in Scotland.
In fact, the Turnberry Hotel met the criteria set by the assessor for their rates to be capped and to receive a rebate. So well done!
However, I wasn’t laughing when I read, the Barclay Review.
Raging, yes. Crying, almost. Laughing – no.
With the hospitality sector – Scotland’s second largest employer – begging for radical change to it rates and the door for change lying wide open, the report slammed it shut.
Honestly, there was so much gobbledygook in this 135-page tome, I thought I was going to have to borrow an Enigma codebreaking machine from the museum at Bletchley Park.
What was abundantly clear though, was that this was not the radical and fair overhaul of the business rates system we had fought for and, to all intent and purposes, been promised.
It didn’t even come close. We were relegated to the back of the review which, even though it agreed we were unfairly treated and our method of valuation flawed, blamed their inability for even trying to find a solution on the fact that it was a problem too complicated for them to solve.
Did I tell you Ken Barclay, author of the report, is a former head of the Royal Bank Of Scotland?
Yes the bailed-out shambles of a bank that cost the country billions.
So why, when it’s painfully obvious there is something rotten in our business rates system, have Barclay and his Tefal-headed team given it a massive rubber ear and not stood up and been counted?
But they did slap themselves on the back for their recommendation of the removal of charitable status of private schools and ALEOS (companies that deliver council services such as sports and leisure, building management, and older people’s care).
Quite right, it’s about time they paid full business rates, especially private schools, that’s a no-brainer.
I also welcome the news they want to reduce the unfair rates competition with hospitality businesses from universities and other public-sector services.
However, I am appalled that this review has decided to take the easy option when faced with such a major issue by completely ignoring it in the hope that it might go away.
That is as inexcusable as it is shameful and could have a devastating impact on our beleaguered industry.
It’s like something out of Monty Python – the 100-yard dash for those with no sense of direction.
Well the road map of support to be travelled for the hospitality sector is now very clear.
With the door for change wide open, they slammed it shut