SNP bus stop tax rakes in £760,000


Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has today revealed new figures showing that councils and bus operators spent more than three quarters of a million pounds paying non-domestic rates bills for bus shelters in 2018-19, warning the SNP Government’s “Bus Stop Tax” was discouraging local authorities from investing in facilities.

A parliamentary question by Mr Rumbles has shown that the amount of non-domestic rates income raised from bus shelters was £764,424 in 2018-19. Non-domestic rates income is pooled between councils, with the Scottish Government determining what level of support is given to councils. This means that councils who build more bus shelters will have to pay more money into the pooled funds but will not receive more funds to cover the costs.

Fife Council has stopped providing new bus shelters for the last 6 years, funding replacements only, and has a backlog of 80 requests for new shelters in that time.

Mr Rumbles said:

“Bus travel has fallen dramatically under the SNP. If facilities were better, more people would use public transport and this trend could be reversed. Instead people are having to stand in the rain because of the SNP’s Bus Stop Tax.

“Councils have to find the money to pay for these facilities in the first place and then pay annual rates on top of that. The evidence is that they are turning down requests to put up new bus shelters as a result.

“The Scottish Government is going to have to do far more to get people onto public transport if it is serious about upgrading its policies to reflect the climate emergency. Ministers could start by getting rid of the Bus Stop Tax.”

Tay Bridgehead Councillor Jonny Tepp commented:

“In the face of the Bus Stop Tax, the council has stopped providing new shelters. There is now a huge backlog of requests for bus shelters across Fife. The bill for existing shelters already runs to tens of thousands of pounds.

“People are going to be discouraged from getting the bus so long as they know that they are going to be totally exposed to the elements while they wait.

“It is time to arrest the decline in bus usage, and one way of doing that is to end the Bus Stop Tax.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Mike Rumbles’ parliamentary questions were as follows:

Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government how many bus shelters in each local authority are liable for non-domestic rates, also broken down by how much was raised from these in 2018-19.

S5W-22830

Kate Forbes: The following table shows the number of entries of bus shelters on the valuation roll and the amount of non-domestic rates income raised in 2018-19 broken down by local authority. Where multiple bus shelters have the same rateable occupier, such as a council, they may be entered as a composite entry.

 

Local Authority

Number of Bus Shelter Entries

Total NDR Income (£s)

Aberdeen City

2

22156

Aberdeenshire

1

22562

Angus

1

14880

Argyll & Bute

1

15960

Clackmannanshire

1

8736

Dumfries & Galloway

3

25776

Dundee City

1

40176

East Ayrshire

1

17760

East Dunbartonshire

1

10320

East Lothian

1

14256

East Renfrewshire

1

12480

Edinburgh City

1

56798

Eilean Siar

1

6240

Falkirk

2

31161

Fife

1

59708

Glasgow City

2

40562

Highlands

10

30432

Inverclyde

1

12480

Midlothian

1

14688

Moray

1

12840

North Ayrshire

1

18480

North Lanarkshire

5

25032

Orkney Islands

1

2520

Perth & Kinross

2

20112

Renfrewshire

1

11040

Scottish Borders

1

16992

Shetland Islands

2

14040

South Ayrshire

1

12240

South Lanarkshire

3

113723

Stirling

1

14880

West Dunbartonshire

1

12960

West Lothian

1

32434

This data is taken from the Valuation Roll, and Local Authority Billing information, as at June 2018.

Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government under what circumstances it considers that a bus shelter can constitute part of a business’s premises, and what its position is on whether such shelters should continue to be liable for non-domestic rates.

S5W-22831

Kate Forbes: Non-domestic rates are levied on all ‘Land and Heritages’ and the valuation of those lands and heritages is a matter for Scottish assessors who are wholly independent of central and local government. Scottish Assessors follow applicable statute and case law in making their decisions on non-domestic property valuations. The Scottish Government has no locus to intervene in that process. Bus shelters are rateable and are therefore liable for non-domestic rates. Where multiple bus shelters have the same rateable occupier, such as a council, they may be entered as a composite entry.


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