At this rate we’ll all be going out of business - Kevin Buckle
This has always been the problem with non-domesticrates in that figures are not based on the rent actually being paid but normally a far higher figure that in a perfect world might be achieved.
Now I hope to sign a new deal for my shop in the next month for an amount that is at least in the same ballpark as the quoted rent but in the four years I have been building up the business in the centre with the support of the owners by paying a much lower rent the rates have been based on a figure that bore no relation to the rent being paid.
In my case the outcome has been very positive for both sides but for many shops in the city centre they will never achieve the rents they have done previously.
When we moved to the Grassmarket we got a great deal on the rent which was for the long term but the rates did not reflect that and in fact instead of the rates being about half the rent they were almost the same.
We had a three year break clause and decided to leave while again the landlord would have been prepared to drop the rent even further to have us stay the rates were
Any change lies with the Scottish Government and while some time ago small shops saw relief from paying rates introduced which particularly helped those in the Old
Town larger shops which more now than ever are the ones that are struggling are seeing no serious talk of a change in how business rates are calculated no matter how often the subject crops up and is blamed as being one of the main factors for the decline of the hight street.
The result of all this is the high street is being overwhelmed with charity shops who are exempt from paying rates and American Candy shops which are well documented to very rarely if ever pay rates disappearing before councils take legal action.
While the old fashioned charity shops are very obvious in their nature it is now very hard to tell the difference in the arts between those in business and paying rates and those claiming to be charities and paying nothing.
Edinburgh is extremely busy at the moment with visitors and wherever people are from they are aware of the problems the high street faces but I have had several customers comment that they are surprised Edinburgh and in particular Princes Street should be suffering so badly.