The Scottish Grocer’s Federation (SGF) has heaped another round of criticism on the government’s plans to introduce a staggered 5.6% business rates increase this April.

It comes after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that inflation had fallen by 1.7% from its peak at 5.6% in September 2011. Commenting on the drop SGF chief executive, John Drummond, said: “The Scottish Government’s commitment to hike up business rates by 5.6% in April was a missed opportunity to support struggling businesses the length and breadth of Scotland.

“The ONS figures now show how excessive the 5.6% hike is, a rise which has added more than £30m to the retail sector’s tax bill alone.”

“We welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s commitment to allow businesses to spread the 5.6% increase over three years but this sugar coating doesn’t disguise the fact that figures like today are a bitter pill to swallow,” he said.