An operator has urged the industry to fight the increase in business rates after discovering he will face a £28,000 hike.

Bothwell, Lanarkshire-based Bullet Express MD David McCutcheon said the increase, effective from 1 April, represented a 26% increase on his previous rates bill.

“The haulage industry is sitting on a time bomb. Lots of firms don’t realise what is coming. I urge hauliers to get their rateable values checked and speak to their local MPs to see if we can get this measure rolled back,” said McCutcheon.

“Although we have the right to appeal, even if it’s accepted, that can take 18 months to two years.

"In the meantime, we are left facing a bill of more than £28,000. It’s totally unacceptable.”

Pointing to the Scottish minister Derek Mackay’s decision to introduce a 12% cap on rate increases for Scotland’s hoteliers and publicans after concerted opposition from the sector, McCutcheon said: “The Scottish government had to back down in the face of strong opposition.

The haulage industry has to do the same and put up a fight.”

Following pressure from Tory backbenchers, communities secretary Sajid Javid has said businesses facing steep rate rises will get some help in the budget on 8 March.

However, he insisted average rate rises will fall in 259 of the 326 local billing authorities.

RHA northern business director Martin Reid said: “This is something we need to keep an eye on as it could make a difference to some companies, particularly those involved in warehousing.

“Haulage is a low-margin business and new costs, that can’t be passed on to the client, are very concerning. We need to see what the government’s final position is on this issue.”

It is the first re-evaluation of business rates conducted in Scotland, England and Wales in seven years.

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