More than 30 groups oppose plan
Business concerns mounting over local rates levy
Out of town businesses would be hit by new tax
Opposition is mounting to a proposed levy on out of town businesses with 31 business groups now voicing their concerns to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s plans.
Objections have emerged during consultation on reform of business rates as recommended in the Barclay review.
The proposed new local authority rates levy on out of town businesses has drawn criticism from a range of sectors including manufacturing, renewables, commercial property, and construction.
Business lobby groups including the CBI Scotland, Food & Drink Federation, Scottish Engineering, and the Scotch Whisky Association have raised concerns the new levy could be complex, difficult to implement, and unlikely to help town centres. The Scottish Retail Consortium, which represents high street, out-of-town, multi-channel and pure online retailers, has consistently raised questions about the proposed new tax.
David Lonsdale, SRC Director, said: “A formidable and broad cross-section of Scottish business and industry are voicing serious doubts over the wisdom of progressing with this new tax, which will simply introduce further complexity and cost into the business rates system.
“The questions around the scheme, who would be liable, what the tax rate would be, how long it would apply for, and where the revenues would go have mounted as business groups from across Scotland’s economy have considered the government’s proposed new tax.
“Considering the Barclay reforms are designed to simplify the complicated rates system, this new tax is a half-cocked pistol which risks exploding and undermining the broader and desirable proposed legislation designed to overhaul the rates regime.
“Finance Secretary Derek Mackay should ditch the proposed levy and instead focus on delivering a simpler and more responsive business rates system; something Ministers do have the clear support of the business community for.”
CBI Scotland said an additional levy “would in short create more complexity, unpredictability and cost to a wide range of businesses that are already working hard to contribute to their local communities.”
The Federation of Small Businesses said a new levy “could create local divisions,.”
Scottish Chambers of Commerce said a new levy risks “unfairly punishing those who have opted for specific business models.”, while the Scotch Whisky Association said it was are not in favour of an out of town additional levy, which could “disadvantage sites that are based in rural locations or out of town centres.”.
The Chartered Institute of Taxation said the levy would be “a bureaucratic burden”.