Letter to minister

13 groups urge Forbes to extend help for retail

Shop-to-let-in-Edinburgh

Empty shops are at a six-year high (pic: Terry Murden)

A group of 13 business and trade union leaders are urging the Scottish Finance Secretary to introduce a business rates discount next year for all retail premises.

They have written to Kate Forbes ahead of her 9 December budget stressing that the retail industry in Scotland can ill-afford a return to 100% business rates from April.

The letter says the sector – which provides 230,000 jobs and accounts for more than a fifth of business rates – requires further support in light of lower footfall and a six-year high for empty shops.

The letter recognises the support so far received during the pandemic, but it states that “for all the progress in pushing back against Covid, it is clear the retail industry is still struggling in its shadow.”

It adds: “As Holyrood’s Finance & Public Administration Committee noted this month, many retailers have incurred significant debt through the crisis including Covid loans and tax deferrals.

“As the guardrails of taxpayer support are gradually withdrawn, retailers are ready to contribute their fair share.

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