Leading business organisations are calling on Scottish finance secretary, Derek Mackay MSP, to scrap a proposed new business rates levy on out-of-town premises.
The joint letter, from 21 organisations, representing a wide cross section of Scottish industry, including retailers and manufacturers, comes ahead of the Scottish government’s Budget expected on 12 December.
The proposed new business rates levy, on commercial premises located out of town, formed part of the Scottish government’s Barclay Implementation consultation paper published on 25 June.
A new levy would “add complexity, cost and unpredictability into the rates system,” and could “ultimately damage Scotland’s competitiveness,” the joint letter said.
“We have always been keen to see the business rates system better flex with economic and trading conditions and as such welcome the thrust of the proposed Non-Domestic Rates Bill, especially more frequent revaluations and reducing the time taken between valuations and them coming into force.
“However, we are profoundly concerned with the idea of giving local authorities the ability to levy an additional business rates charge on premises located out of town.
“We urge you not to proceed with this aspect of the legislation due to the potential impact it would have on a wide-range of vital businesses, many of them major employers in communities across Scotland,” it said.
The letter added: “We want Scotland to be a great place to do business. Dispensing with the proposed new rates levy would go some way to delivering on the government’s ambition of having the most competitive rates regime in the UK.”
A number of leading names in the retail and manufacturing sectors have signed the letter, including the Scottish Grocers Federation, the Scottish Wholesale Association and the Food and Drink Federation Scotland.