Appeal from minister

Forbes backs rates lobby and urges MSPs to reject council switch

Kate Forbes, SNP digital minister

Kate Forbes: ‘unequivocal support’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes has pledged the SNP’s commitment to retaining the uniform business rate and urged other parties to drop their call for rates to be put under the control of local authorities.

Replying to a letter signed by 27 business trade groups letter she echoed concerns that devolving control of the £2.8 billion tax to 32 town halls would create risk and uncertainty for both ratepayers and local authorities.

A vote is expected on an amendment to the the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill in the next few weeks proposed by Green MSP Andy Wightman. It would allow local authorities to set their own poundage rate, rates reliefs, and any supplements or surcharges.

In an unprecedented show of unity, business groups such as the FSB, Scottish Retail Consortium and Scottish Engineering want the amendment overturned.

“We fear this could lead to higher business rates bills, at a time when the poundage rate is already at a 20-year high and with a further increase pencilled in for this Spring, and when businesses want to invest and grow the Scottish economy,” says the letter.

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