TORIES AND LABOUR VOTE TO AXE SUPPORT FOR 1,980 OF EAST LOTHIAN BUSINESSES AND 1,360 OF MIDLOTHIAN BUSINESSES
SNP ONLY PARTY TO BACK SMALL BUSINESSES AMID BREXIT CHAOS
The SNP has condemned an opposition attempt to end crucial rates reliefs schemes that benefit 1,980 businesses in East Lothian, 1,360 in Midlothian, and 100,000 businesses across Scotland.
Tory and Labour MSPs have voted for an Andy Wightman amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates poundage.
Amendment 9, lodged by Andy Wightman, sets out to devolve powers to set business rates to councils. The effect is that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs – including the Small Business Bonus and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.
Businesses in East Lothian would lose of £4,741,000 relief under the plan. Midlothian would lose £3,470,000 in relief.
The Federation of Small Businesses, CBI Scotland and the Scottish Retail Consortium have all raised concerns over the impact of the proposed changes, warning it will create added costs and deter investment.
SNP MSPs were the only members of the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government Committee to oppose the move.
SNP MSP Colin Beattie commented:
“Businesses in East Lothian and Midlothian need an escape from Brexit - not yet more uncertainty and unnecessary cost.
“The Scottish Government offers the most generous package of business rates reliefs anywhere in the UK, worth nearly £750 million to Scottish business. Astonishingly Tory and Labour MSPs have voted to withdraw nearly £300 million of relief in a move that would devastate Scottish business.
“More than 100,000 businesses across Scotland – and 1,980 in East Lothian, 1,360 in Midlothian – benefit from the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus. That would disappear, alongside other reliefs affecting including support for nurseries, under the proposals being forced through by opposition parties.
“A majority of Scottish businesses benefit from the lowest poundage anywhere in the UK and incentives that only exist in Scotland. All that is under threat as ministers would not be able to set a consistent rate and provide national reliefs.
“These plans would deliver a body blow to East Lothian and Midlothian businesses and would put at risk the delivery of local services. The Tories and Labour must back track on this disastrous move at the final stage of the bill.
“The oppositions economic credibility was already in tatters, but this is just reckless.
“This makes crystal clear that the SNP is the only party that will stand up for Scottish business.”