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Moves needed to help struggling shops

Retailers step up calls for reform of ‘tax on jobs’

David LonsdaleScotland’s retailers have launched a report calling for the reform of business taxation, questioning whether it should remain property based.

Launching the first in a series of election policy papers (Holyrood 2016: Business Rates), the Scottish Retail Consortium is setting out a range of measures to be a priority in the next government’s programme of legislation.

It is also wants immediate action to arrest the number of store closures, assist town centres, support business investment and protect jobs.

These measures include the introduction of more frequent revaluations, a lower retail-specific poundage, empty property relief for premises undergoing investment and refurbishment and a wide range of administrative improvements including standardised online billing and a reduction in the number of assessors from 14 to 1 into a single National Assessor.

SRC director David Lonsdale (pictured), said: “Ahead of the Holyrood election there needs to be a thorough debate about how the next Scottish administration and parliament will seek to help raise the country’s rate of economic growth and improve business productivity.

“Lifting private sector investment will be crucial to achieving this. There is a strong and growing consensus across business and industry in Scotland that the current business rates system is inadequate to the task, out of date, no longer fit for purpose and in serious need of fundamental reform.

“The system is a tax on jobs and growth, undermining investment in property, especially in town centres and high streets.  There is no greater pressing issue for the retail industry in Scotland than the prohibitive burden of business rates, which has moved in the eyes of many retailers from an irritation to mission critical in recent years.

“This is not just a problem for businesses, store closures have a significant and detrimental impact on communities and town centres and lead to a loss in government revenue through other taxes.

“That is why we have launched our proposals for reform which are vital for securing a competitive business environment in Scotland.”

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