Exclusive: Four years of 'inaction'

Councils accused of not using power to cut business rates

empty shops in Glasgow

Empty shops are often a result of soaring business rates (pic: Terry Murden)

A retail leader today accuses Scotland’s councils of failing to support local businesses by not using a power given to them four years ago today to cut business rates.

Only three of the country’s 32 councils – Perth and Kinross, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire – have used the discretionary power under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

In that time rates have soared to a 20-year high and have been seen as one of the main causes of small firms – particularly shops – going to the wall.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “It is exactly four years since local councils first got the power to reduce business rates, however barely any have bothered to act on it.

“This is hugely disappointing at a time when one out of every ten shops in our town and city centres is lying empty, and with several further casualties revealed of late on our high streets.”

Mr Lonsdale said “concrete action” is urgently needed to cut the cost of doing business and to rejuvenate Scotland’s high streets.

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