20% rates rise could put some nurseries out of business

Scottish Borders Council headquarters.
Scottish Borders Council headquarters.

Three-quarters of the 20 private nurseries and childcare centres that receive non-domestic rates bills from Scottish Borders Council saw their rateable values increase on April 1 this year.

The average hike for these businesses has been 20%, with one Borders provider facing a 44% increase.

Most of the region’s nurseries are still entitled to a level of small business rates relief - available on properties with a rateable value of less than £35,000, but five have no such entitlement and face an increased net liability. One nursery will have pay an extra £3,312 in business rates this year.

The data is revealed in a council submission to the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party petitions committee, which is considering a petition from the owner of an East Lothian nursery urging the Scottish Government to abolish or freeze business rates for nurseries.

Scottish Borders Council says there are “no current pressures” on nursery places in the Borders, but acknowledges “there are two large local nursery providers and, if either felt their business was not profitable, then there would be pressure on nursery places locally,” adding: “Private nursery providers have raised concerns regarding increases and that this may impact of their viability.”

The Borders’ assessor said: “The values of day nurseries in the Borders are aligned to similar properties.

“A nursery may occupy an industrial type property with the characteristics of an office or shop.”