Hyslop Condemns Labour and Tory Attempt to End Business Rates Relief

Hyslop Condemns Labour and Tory Attempt to End Business Rates Relief

Local Constituency MSP for Linlithgow, Fiona Hyslop, has condemned opposition MSPs who voted to axe support for 2,770 businesses in West Lothian.

Tory and Labour MSPs voted for an Andy Wightman amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates poundage meaning business rates reliefs, like the Small Business Bonus and the Business Growth Accelerator, would automatically end. This would impact rates relief totalling up to £7,639,000 in West Lothian alone.

Fiona Hyslop Commented;

“It is hugely disappointing that some Labour and Conservative MSPs want to take away the rates of relief for our small businesses, this is the wrong message to send to the companies, cafes and shops in our communities who keep our local economy going.

“It is particularly careless that this vote comes right before we all celebrate the importance of our small businesses this weekend as we mark Small Business Saturday.

“The Scottish Government offers the most generous package of business rates reliefs anywhere in the UK, worth nearly £750 million to Scottish business. Astonishingly Conservative and Labour MSPs have voted to withdraw nearly £300 million of relief in a move that would devastate Scottish business.

“Here in West Lothian over 2,730 businesses gain from the Small Business Bonus Scheme saving over £7m in rates relief. 10 local businesses benefit from Transitional Relief and 30 benefit from Nursery Day Relief, this is worth £42,000 and £363,000 respectively.

“This is a very dangerous and reckless decision made by Labour and Conservative MSPs. Our local businesses need stability, not more uncertainty and unnecessary cost as we head towards the deadline for Brexit.

“SNP MSPs were the only members of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee to oppose this move – it is clear that the SNP is the only party that will stand up for businesses in Scotland.”



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Devolving business rates to local authorities would also put at risk local services. Under current arrangements the Scottish Government guarantees council NDR income, protecting them from economic shocks. It would not be possible to continue this if NDR is devolved to thirty two local authorities.
The Federation of Small Businesses, CBI Scotland and the Scottish Retail Consortium have all raised concerns over the impact of the proposed changes, warning it will create added costs and deter investment.

Stuart Mackinnon, FSB’s external affairs manager for Scotland, said: “Across Scotland, small businesses will be alarmed to hear that nationwide rate relief for smaller operators is under threat.”
Tracy Black, Director of CBI Scotland, said: “Businesses have been clear that we wanted simplification – instead we could face more complexity and fragmentation. And complexity and fragmentation = bigger administrative burden and increased business costs.”
David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, commented:
“Allowing each of Scotland’s 32 councils to set the poundage rate in their area is an alarming and retrograde step, and flies in the face of the Bill’s aims and the thrust of the rates reform agenda.”