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Scotland Gives 10 Year Business Rates Holiday to Fibre Broadband

Saturday, Mar 16th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 2,926

On 1st April 2019 the Scottish Government will go one big step further than the UK Government in Westminster by introducing 100% relief from business rates on new “fibre broadband infrastructure“. Better yet, the tax break is set to last for 10 long years until 31st March 2029.

The UK Government has had a 5 year holiday on business rates for new fibre optic (FTTP / FTTH) broadband infrastructure since 1st April 2017. Many operators have called for this to be extended, not least since such providers usually have to plan their investments over much longer periods of 10-15 years in order to reflect the lengthy payback for such expensive upgrades.

Meanwhile Scotland’s £600 million R100 programme is currently in the process of choosing a supplier, which will have the difficult job of getting as close as possible to universal coverage of 30Mbps+superfast broadband” by the end of 2021 (here and here); March 2022 as a financial year. In keeping with that effort they’ve now introduced an even longer holiday on business rates.

The relevant legislation for this change was finally laid before the Scottish Parliament on 18th February 2019 (here), although ISPreview.co.uk somehow managed to overlook this important development until today. The change itself formed part of last year’s Scottish Budget 2019-2020 announcement.

The development will make it significantly more affordable to build new “full fibre” (FTTP/H) broadband networks over the next decade, which should be particularly useful in Scotland where there’s a lot of wide open and quite rugged terrain to dig with optical fibre cables. Essentially, this will make the business case for extending such networks more attractive; particularly useful for those bidding on the R100 contract.

Apparently eligibility for New Fibre Infrastructure under this relief is still subject to compatibility with EU State Aid rules (unless that comes to an end post-Brexit).

NOTE: The picture comes from Balquhidder’s community fibre optic dig in Scotland
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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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12 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Mike says:

    Courtesy of the English taxpayer?

  2. Avatar photo Robert Leith says:

    I hope that isn’t an example of English racism it’s uk taxpayers

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      I know Scots like to play hard done to but equating economic reality with racism is a bit… rich.

  3. Avatar photo Robert Leith says:

    This particular Scot isn’t hard done by as you suggest , merely pointing out we all pay tax in the uk .

  4. Avatar photo robert leith says:

    The phrase you used was English tax payers , any racism emanated from yourself Scotland is part of the uk .

    1. Avatar photo AreYouSure says:

      @Robert Leith

      Maybe @Mike was trying to say that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland only makes up 15% of the taxes paid in the UK although Scotland is given 30% of the whole UK pot to spend on Scotland

    2. Avatar photo alan says:

      “although Scotland is given 30% of the whole UK pot to spend on Scotland”

      If that were true Parliament in London would be more than happy for them to become independent. As it is though thats a complete fantasy figure and in fact anyone that lives in Scotland and earns more than £26,000 a year pays more income tax than a person in England earning the same.

  5. Avatar photo Gary HILTON says:

    Well, A solid commitment to help improve the financial viability of investment in Scotland’s Fibre infrastructure. Have to admit this came as a surprise, Ive nothing negative to say about this, sure its a loss of tax income, but that’s tax income that would only be realised If/when the works were carried out.

    1. Avatar photo A_Builder says:

      That is a very good point and very well expressed.

      It is a hypothetical loss of income BUT is guaranteed future income.

      So actually getting this stuff built derives a long term income stream for The Exchequer.

      And if nothing happen the future guaranteed income would….well….zero….

    2. Avatar photo Kyle Reid says:

      Yeah i’m sure all the neds and low class trash are going to get FTTP lmao

      most are on 5 or 10 quid o2 pay as you go sims and cheapest internet packages possible like talktalk

      don’t kid yourself into thinking its guaranteed investment that is a silly way to think i guess you’re not into investing at all like myself.

      PRO TIP – always prepare for the worse.

      P.S i was born in one of the poorest place in scotland

      an all FTTP adaption is unlikely due to poor people.

  6. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

    I do understand why the UK Government and here the Scottish Government provide this tax concession to encourage investment in Fibre overall but my view is this may simply encourage overbuild in central/urban towns and cities rather than the provision of Full Fibre to those in rural who actually need a step up in broadband service now and those left on ADSL and poor FTTC going forward.

    1. Avatar photo Kev says:

      It’s not only rural areas, everyone needs a step up in the UK as we are so far behind all of our European neighbours FTTH is still not democratised yet and the closest thing to it is virgin which suffers from important over-subscription issues in many areas. So yes FTTH will start with cities and will expand to rural areas later but you need to make those investment now, they have been delayed for way too long!

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