The Scottish Government has announced that large retailers selling both tobacco and alcohol will be hit with a new public health levy from next year.
The tax will be imposed via a business rates supplement on retailers with a rateable value of £300,000 or more. The measure was announced last week by finance secretary John Swinney as part of the Scottish Government’s spending review.
It is expected to raise £30m per year when it is introduced in April 2012, a government spokesman said. The size of the levy is yet to be announced.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) attempted to introduce a large retailer levy earlier this year, but Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat MSPs combined to reject the proposal. However, the SNP now leads a majority government, meaning opposition parties do not have the power to reject the plans.
Welcoming the move, John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said the proposal would go “some way towards redressing the imbalance that has existed for years in relation to business rates”.
He added: “When you consider the large car-parking spaces and benefits from new road systems enjoyed by the supermarkets, with business rates per square foot much cheaper than smaller stores with limited or no car parking, this measure is a welcome attempt by the Scottish Government to create more of a level playing field.”
But Scottish Retail Consortium director Ian Shearer said: “This new tax is a blatant fundraising exercise which is illogical and discriminatory.”