Merger is planned if rates relief removed

NL Leisure has its headquarters within Broadwood Stadium
NL Leisure has its headquarters within Broadwood Stadium

NL Leisure and Culture NL could be merged into one body if the Scottish Government removes rates relief for some charities.

The Barclay review group was set up to make recommendations to enhance and reform the business rates system in Scotland.

A key recommendation within the group’s report is that the rates relief currently available to charities such as NL Leisure and Culture NL should be restricted to a small number of recipients.

While no decision has been made this could mean the rates relief worth £4.6m that North Lanarkshire Council currently allows for the properties managed by the two organisations could be removed from April.

The council’s strategic adviser for External Organisations Katrina Hassell told the Policy and Resources Committee said: “Rates relief equivalent to £4.6m per annum is currently awarded by the council to its charitable delivery vehicles. This value would become payable if this Barclay review recommendation was implemented.

“The variation recommended within the Barclay review will require primarily legislation to be implemented in full, but at this time there are no specific HR/policy/legislative impacts requiring member consideration.”

Back in June the Policy and Resources Committee considered seven potential delivery options in respect of cultural and leisure services, and told officers to take forward a proposal for a single organisation which will be considered later in the year.

Ms Hassell said: “Over the summer months, officers began to develop the high−level project plan and stakeholder engagement plan in respect of the single organisation option, with a further report outlining progress against key milestones scheduled for reporting to the November/December meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee.

“All relevant risks and uncertainties associated with the future delivery of sport, leisure and cultural services will be examined in detail as part of the planned due diligence considerations.”

Other recommendations in the Barclay review include: closing avoidance loopholes; a reduced three-year revaluation cycle; reviewing empty rates relief on buildings; and a proposed 12-month delay in introducing or increasing rates bills, following a development or improvement.

Knight Frank valuations partner Iain McGhee said: “It’s clear that the review is a mixed bag for all kinds of businesses – not only the property industry.”