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Parties urged to make changes

Business organisations united in rates reform plea

David Lonsdale seriousAll of Scotland’s five main general business representative bodies are now calling for substantial change to Scotland’s £2.8 billion a year business rates system.

David Lonsdale, who heads the Scottish Retail Consortium, said today’s publication of the SCDI Blueprint meant there was now a “formidable cross section of business and industry” calling for reform.

§  SCDI’s Blueprint calls for ‘a review to fundamentally reform the business rates system’

§  The recent CBI Scotland manifesto says ‘business rates need to be overhauled’

§  FSB Scotland’s recent manifesto says business rates are ‘in need of radical reform’

§  Last month the Scottish Chambers of Commerce called on politicians to ‘fundamentally reform this damaging tax’

§  IoD Scotland – in a joint open letter last month – said the Scottish Government should ‘review the options for the fundamental reform of business rates’

Last month the SRC,  IoD Scotland and 39 other firms and business representative groups wrote a joint open letter calling for business rates to be fundamentally reformed, and for the political parties to commit to this in their upcoming election manifestos.

Mr Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “A formidable and broad cross section of Scottish business and industry believes that the current business rates system is out of date, no longer fit for purpose and is in serious need of fundamental reform.

“For retailers there is no greater pressing issue for the industry than the prohibitive burden of business rates. Retailers view the current system as a tax on jobs and growth, undermining investment in new or refurbished shop premises.

“In the retail industry alone, 3,500 jobs have been lost in Scotland over the past year with the risk of losing more unless this tax on jobs and investment is reformed to support business growth and employment.

“As the political parties finalise their manifestos for the 2016 Holyrood election now is the time to rise to the challenge and commit to take action to support businesses and unleash investment in Scotland.”

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