Trade bodies welcome retention of Scottish Uniform Business Rate

Trade bodies have welcomed the decision by Members of the Scottish Parliament to vote against scrapping the Uniform Business rate in Scotland after concerns  raised by business leaders about local councils taking control of the business rates system. After months of lobbying, Labour said it would oppose a proposed amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates bill.


At committee stage, opposition MSPs had backed an amendment which would have seen local councils take control of business rates, with the new powers allowing Scotland’s 32 local authorities to set their own non-domestic rates.


UKHospitality Executive Director for Scotland Willie Macleod, said,  “This decision is a sensible and pragmatic one. Scrapping the uniform business rate would likely have been hugely detrimental to businesses in Scotland.

 “It is likely that business rates bills for businesses large and small would have skyrocketed, with the result that already-squeezed businesses may have failed altogether. The lack of a uniform rate would have caused financial and administrative headaches for rates payers and would have further complicated the application of Scotland-wide reliefs.


“Problems with spiralling rates, especially in the hospitality and licensed sectors, still need to be addressed in Scotland, but for now further adversity and needless complication has been avoided. We are very pleased that MSPs have seen sense, listened to our concerns which are shared with others, notably the Scottish Retail Consortium, and avoided putting further pressure on Scottish businesses.”


A statement from the Scottish Tourism Alliance said, “The STA welcomes the result of today’s vote at Holyrood which will see the retention of the Uniform Business Rate (UBR) by the Scottish Government.

“Had the UBR been scrapped we would have almost certainly seen higher rates bills for tourism businesses and a move backwards from the actions and recommendations of the Barclay Review which aimed to ensure greater competitiveness, transparency and simplicity.

“The Scottish Tourism Alliance was in the vanguard of campaigning on this issue, submitting a consultation response to Parliament and joining 27 business trade groups in an open letter to MSPs, calling for the Uniform Business Rate to be retained. The vote by MSPs today sends a clear message of support to Scotland’s tourism businesses.”

Tracy Black, CBI Scotland Director, said, “Scottish firms will be relieved to see common sense prevail with the Uniform Business Rate being protected, avoiding further complications to the business rates system. As the economy continues to stutter, businesses have long called on politicians to support a simplified rates system that encourages greater investment.
“With the Scottish Budget on the horizon, there’s still more to be done to ensure Scotland has a truly competitive rates system. Bringing the Large Business Supplement into line with the rest of the UK would stop businesses in Scotland being at a competitive disadvantage and send a strong signal about Scotland as a place to invest and do business.”


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