BREAKING – Death knell of small businesses?

Many small businesses will be hard hit by Brexit, finding it difficult to survive with increased costs and additional red tape. Now small businesses in our high streets and local industrial estates around the Borders have something else to worry about.

With us all focussed on the general election and Brexit our eyes have been off what is taking place at Holyrood, but maybe we should have been paying more attention.

Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, has just Tweeted the following thread with the information that opposition MSPs have voted to amend the Non-Domestic Rates Bill to remove the ability of the Scottish Government to set the rate poundage nationally and provide many rates reliefs such as the Small Business Bonus. Devolving rates to 32 local authorities would also put at risk local revenues.

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.

More than 100,000 businesses benefit from the Small Business Bonus and the Business Growth Accelerator ensures that businesses that build new premises or enhance existing ones pay no more for the first year. Both of these would disappear under the opposition proposals.

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.

So Tory/Lab/Greens deliver a body blow to Scottish business and put at risk the delivery of local services. Tory economic credibility was already in tatters over Brexit, but this is just reckless.

There is bound to be more to come on this.

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