In a response to questions lodged by North East MSP Mike Rumbles the Scottish Government’s Finance Minister has refused to say whether the Scottish Government has made any assessment of how many businesses could fail as a result of the proposed business rates revaluations.
This week, following sustained pressure from local businesses, press and politicians, the Scottish Government U-turned on planned business rates hike for thousands of medium sized businesses by introducing a National Relief Scheme – limiting the rates rise to 12.5% for 9500 businesses.
Mr Rumbles said: “The Finance Secretary refuses to say what, if any, assessment the Scottish Government has made of how many businesses these rates hikes have put at risk. Considering the potential impact of these changes its speaks of a reckless Government if no assessment has been done.
“Either the Cabinet Secretary doesn’t have a clue or he doesn’t want to tell us. Neither of those answers is going to be reassuring to the thousands of business owners who are seeing their rates double.
“It is vital that we keep the pressure on the Scottish Government, both locally and in Holyrood, to ensure that no businesses in the North East fail due to rates increases.”
Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrat council group spokesperson Fergus Hood added: “Scottish Liberal Democrats in council have argued that a transitional scheme would be the right thing to do and the Scottish Government’s own consultation showed that a majority of businesses support this.
“We welcome the climb down on rates for some medium sized businesses however there are many more employers that will still be forced to cope with these punishing increases.
“Now is the worst time imaginable to be stripping our local employers of their ability to employ more staff. So the campaign to protect our local economy from this wrong-headed revaluation must continue.”
Notes to editors:
Mike Rumbles’ parliamentary question: 20 February 2017 (Holding Reply Issued 8 February 2017):
Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of how many businesses may fail as a result of the recent revaluation of business rates.
- Derek Mackay: In my Draft Budget 2017-18 statement to Parliament I set out a comprehensive package of action in light of the revaluation to deliver a highly competitive business rates regime that will benefit businesses across Scotland. The package includes expansion of the Small Business Bonus Scheme from April 2017 to lift 100,000 properties out of rates completely, excluding 8,000 properties from the large business supplement, and cutting the overall business rates poundage by 3.7 per cent to 46.6 pence. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 has enabled councils to apply further rates reductions separately from Government-funded reliefs. In addition, an external review led by Ken Barclay is exploring how business rates can better reflect economic conditions and support growth. We will respond swiftly when the review concludes in the summer of 2017.