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As firms warn over rising costs

Mackay urged to respond to outcry over business rates

Derek Mackay
Derek Mackay: call to respond

Finance secretary Derek Mackay has been urged to respond to a growing outcry over the hike in business rates.

Several sectors have complained about the impact of the recent revaluation, which has resulted in some businesses paying more than double their current taxation and warning they could be forced to close.

Most business premises in Scotland have been reassessed, including shops, offices, warehouses and factories.

The Scottish Conservatives today said they want Mr Mackay to give a statement when MSPs return next week.

So far First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there would be an opportunity for individual businesses to appeal.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “This revaluation could see businesses across the country going under, it’s as simple as that. If that’s not cause for the SNP government to act, I don’t know what is.

“While Nicola Sturgeon obsesses with Brexit and independence, Scottish companies large and small are staring down the barrel of a gun.

“This revaluation is threatening jobs and the wider economy, and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser added: “This is fast becoming a crisis for businesses the length and breadth of the country.

“Many say they face closure, while others are being forced to hike their prices to cover these increased costs.

“This is not an acceptable state of affairs, and we need to know what Scotland’s finance secretary intends to do about this.

“It’s time for the SNP to prove it’s not an anti-business government and take some meaningful action to help these businesses which are the lifeblood of our economy.”

Last September 13 of Scotland’s business organisations called on to reverse the decision to double a supplementary business rates charge.

The increase in the Large Business Supplement from 1.3p to 2.6p will add £62 million to the annual costs of running businesses in Scotland.

Even public bodies have been hit. The Southern General in Glasgow will see its rates bill rocket by 50% to more than £22m, while Network Rail’s bill will jump 45% to £47m.

Earlier this month an SNP branch was forced to switch its regular meetings at a local hotel because it could not afford an increase in the cost – caused by the party’s own hike in business rates.

Mr Mackay responded in the Scottish Budget by announcing an expansion of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, raising the eligibility threshold for 100% relief to a rateable value of £15,000. This lifted 100,000 properties out of rates altogether, generating a saving of up to £6,990 per property.

However, David Lonsdale director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said three-quarters of retail jobs are in businesses which receive no rates relief.

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