Digital economy has to play a role

Lobby group joins fight for business rates reform

Princes St shoppingAnother organisation has urged reform of business rates and said the digital economy has to make a greater contribution to financing public services.

The Association of Town and City Management, which promotes the vitality and viability of town and city centres, says the recently-ordered reviews are an opportunity to make sweeping changes to save the high street.

Five of Scotland’s key trade bodies, together with individual retailers, have called for a better system of taxation.

ATCM Scotland says it has been a long-term champion of reform, pushing for a tax system that is consistent with 21st Century business practices.

Interim Chief Executive, Shanaaz Carroll, said: “The way businesses and consumers do things has changed. The high street is unrecognisable today in comparison to what it was when business rates was introduced.

“People can work, shop, learn and play online. This has transformed our relationship with commercial property. The Scottish Government must now recognise this through a fair tax deal or see many high streets fall into terminal decline.”

Ms Carroll remains optimistic that a fair solution will be found that will share the tax burden equally and protect public services, especially as the concerns are UK-wide.

She added: “We already have reviews on-going in both England and Northern Ireland. We have also been approached by Welsh policy-makers who are concerned about the impact of the current tax system.

“There is clearly a recognition in all quarters that there needs to be reform. We need to accept that the digital economy has to play a role in contributing to public services.

“It is better to have all businesses contribute a little than high street businesses contribute a lot to subsidise online alternatives. The latter is unsustainable and is ensuring we lose tax paying businesses that are significant employers.”

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