Scotland’s NHS is facing a £150m property tax bombshell over the next five years
The country’s 14 regional and seven specialist health boards warned they could pay more than £30 million a year in business rates from April.
Bills for hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, are expected to soar by up to 30 per cent after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay rejected calls for a national transitional relief scheme.
In a joint submission to the government struggling health chiefs warned the increases will “significantly pressurise cash resources required for front line services”.
The SNP Government has already been hit by a business rebellion over the first revaluation of non-domestic property since 2010.
Although carried out by independent assessors there are growing demands for Mr Mackay to step in and help those who are likely to be hardest hit.
Some companies face a rise of up to 250 per cent – fuelling fears that jobs could be lost, prices will soar and some may be forced to close.
Hoteliers and publicans have warned of a rates boycott in what has been described as a “poll tax moment”.
Firms are also being urged to lodge an appeal but the process can take up to three years.
Health boards in Scotland face a significant rise in business rates costs
But Mr Mackay has refused to bow to pressure for phased arrangements arguing it would see smaller firms funding cuts for a larger ones.
He also insists councils have the power to apply local reductions.
But in a government consultation on the issue last October health bosses backed a national scheme warning a hike could see bills soar “in the region of 20-30 per cent” across the NHS estate.
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Health boards have warned they could pay more than £30m a year in business rates from April
They wrote: “Without a system of transition, health boards in Scotland face a significant rise in business rates costs, at a conservative estimate exceeding £20m per annum but potentially in excess of £30m per annum.
“These increases will significantly pressurise cash resources required for front line services.”
Business rates are usually reviewed every five years, meaning a potential bill of £150 million by 2021.
The revaluation was carried out in 2015, before the economy felt the full impactof the oil price collapse.
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A report by Audit Scotland last year found that seven out of eight key standards on health were being missed while NHS boards were having to make hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts.
Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie described the rates evidence as “chilling”.
She said: “The SNP’s NHS business rates bombshell could put frontline services at even greater risk than they are already.
“Frontline NHS services are already struggling, with a delayed discharge crisis, workforce planning in chaos and A&E waiting time targets not being met.
“The SNP was warned last year by the people who run our health service that this could cost millions yet Nationalist ministers appear to have simply ignored this expert advice.”
Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the 52 respondents to the consultation supported some form of transitional scheme.
Tories have demanded a parliamentary statement on the shake-up and want an immediate review of the revaluation.
Finance spokesman Murdo Fraser accused the SNP of trying to "pass the buck" adding: "It is a complete abdication of responsibility.
“Once again, we see a Scottish Government so obsessed with its campaign for independence that it has fallen asleep at the wheel on the issues that actually matter to people.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said the government had been “arrogant” to reject the results of the consultation.
Bills for hospitals and dentists, are expected to soar Derek Mackay rejected a relief scheme
Mr Mackay insisted his administration had “responded” to business concerns with a “package of measures to reduce rates” by £155 million.
A Scottish Government spokesman added: “Individual business rate payers, including NHS Boards, can appeal their valuation via independent processes if they feel it is incorrect.
“The NHS has worked closely with Scottish Assessors Association (SAA) to understand the impact of the Rating Revaluation 2017 and this has been factored into the financial plans of all NHS Boards.
“NHS funding is at record high levels and the health resource budget will increase by almost £2 billion by the end of this Parliament, from that increase NHS Boards will manage the impact of these changes.”