Struggling north-east firms are still waiting for vital government aid to help stave off further business rates misery, it has emerged.
Last month, the Press and Journal revealed that hotels, restaurants and offices across the area were still being hit with rocketing bills due to administrative delays preventing them from receiving financial relief.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told the region’s hospitality and office sectors in February their rises would be capped at 12.5% as he faced a furious backlash from angry bosses.
Aberdeenshire Council previously said there had been delays in finalising the software to process applications after claiming they were not given enough time by ministers to put the package in place.
The Scottish Government only issued formal legislation on the scheme just a few weeks before the rates rises were due to come into effect on April 1.
Last night, the authority said it had initiated the process of purchasing the IT system and it expected to have it in place within the next few weeks.
Charles Milne, owner of the Banff Springs hotel, vowed to pay only the capped rate until the relief scheme can be properly implemented.
He said: “What they’re forgetting is that it’s real money and real businesses – they have got a lackadaisical attitude. Presumably they have got a calculator.
“I changed my direct debit and made it for the capped rate. I am not going to not pay them, I will pay them what they are due.
“This is the most difficult trading period I have known for a while. It is a saga we could do without.”
Stonehaven’s the Ship Inn is among the other businesses which has still to receive the relief package.
Simon Cruickshank, who has been hit with an 80% rise, has already refused to pay the new bill.
Previously, the council confirmed any businesses eligible for the relief would be refunded in future payments.
The Scottish Government denied responsibility for the delays when they were first revealed.