SRC & SCC write to Scottish Parliament concerning the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill
The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) have both written to MSPs expressing their views on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill.
The SRC letter sees 27 of the country’s leading business representative groups and sectoral trade associations have urge MSPs to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate.
On the other hand, the SCC has called for reform by highlighting the need for responsiveness, fairness, certainty and consistency as the core principles for business taxation policies.
The letters come ahead of the final Stage 3 vote on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, expected over the next few weeks.
The SRC wrote:
Retain the Uniform Business Rate
We are writing to you ahead of Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill to voice our alarm and shared concern over recently adopted amendments which seek to scrap the Uniform Business Rate and instead hand control over this £2.8 billion tax to each of the 32 local authorities to set their own poundage rate, rates reliefs, and any supplements or surcharges.
Our ambition is for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions. It is why we have supported the thrust of the Bill.
However, we are profoundly concerned with the abolition of the Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs, and the consistency and predictability they bring.
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.
We, therefore, urge you and fellow MSPs to overturn these amendments, which simply introduce fresh complexity, cost and unpredictability into the rates system, and which are at odds with the rates reform agenda of ensuring competitiveness and minimising complexity.
We want Scotland to be a great place to do business. Retaining the Uniform Business Rate would be a positive step in the right direction.
In its own letter, the SCC wrote:
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has consistently called for reform of Scotland’s non-domestic rates (NDR) system to ensure it provides a fair and responsive system for companies across Scotland. Businesses play a critical role in creating jobs and generating taxes, and it is our belief that the NDR system must have fairness, certainty and consistency as the core principles behind its operation.
We have been raising the business voice on reforming the NDR system through various forums including participation with the Barclay Review, engagement on the Barclay Review Implementation Group, and written submissions on this topic to Scottish Parliament Committees ahead of Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland Bill).