Business leaders warn action is needed on rates relief


RETAIL bosses in Scotland are warning that thousands of shops face a huge increase in business rates bills, as they continue to deter businesses from the city centre.

David Lonsdale, the director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, also criticised a new surtax on large grocers as a “cash grab”. He warned that 4,500 businesses are facing huge increases in businesses rates as the poundage rate reaches its highest since devolution.

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And business leaders in Aberdeen are calling for the SNP to take action and introduce a 75% rates relief, like that in England.

The scheme wasn’t replicated north of the border for mainland businesses in Shona Robison’s December budget.

“If it’s doable in England and the Westminster government has passed that on to us then that argument doesn’t hold for me,” said the founding director of The McGinty’s Group, Allan Henderson.

But on a visit to the Granite City, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, told the Press & Journal: “We’re facing one of the worst budget settlements that we’ve ever seen in Scotland.

“We’ve had a real terms decrease and if we were to replicate the rates relief that’s been seen down south in Scotland that would mean quite bluntly that we wouldn’t have the same money to invest in our NHS and schools, in our emergency services as well.”

Mr Henderson added: “There is absolutely no doubt that Aberdeen city centre has been down on its heels. But there is some positive things happening.

“The work that Aberdeen Inspired do and Our Union Street are trying to do to reinvigorate Union Street will come to fruition.

“What you’re also seeing is that some of the rentals are coming down in the city centre so basic economics mean that some of the units will fill up.”

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