Orkney MSP Liam McArthur MSP has today warned the Scottish Government that implementing the Barclay Review recommendations on business rates in relation to charitable trusts could threaten sport and leisure facilities in Orkney and across the country.
The warning from Mr McArthur followed a debate in Parliament last night [15/11/2017] on the impact of the Barclay Review recommendations into business rates on the sport and leisure sector.
Mr McArthur believes that recommendation 24 of the Barclay Review, which recommends the ending of the exemption for non-domestic rates for charitable trusts, would have “dire financial consequences for charitable trusts, such as the Picky Trust, and their ability to deliver benefits in terms of improved health and wellbeing.”
Orkney’s MSP has written to Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay, urging him to do the “right thing” and rule out any removal of rates relief for charitable trusts.
Speaking after the debate today, Mr McArthur said:
“Concerns have been raised about the threat that any removal of rates relief could have on the viability of providing sports and leisure services across Scotland.
“In Orkney, for example, it is hard to argue that rates relief gives the Picky Trust a competitive advantage over other providers. Instead, there is a real risk that removal of rates relief could result in the Picky Trust folding, leaving Orkney Islands Council to pick up the pieces.
“Given that additional costs would have to be met from within an already tight Council budget, it is inevitable that we would see the cost of accessing facilities and classes increase, their availability decrease and ultimately the loss of jobs.
“At a time when the Active Life initiative is opening up opportunities for more people in Orkney to undertake exercise and take part in sport, this is an unwelcome and backwards step. Indeed, it risks undermining efforts to help improve health, including mental health, locally.
“The Finance Secretary has told Parliament he is doing the right thing by engaging, consulting and considering his options. I am absolutely clear, however, that the right thing to do would be to rule out saddling our charitable trusts with more costs, making it more difficult for them to deliver for our communities.”