SNP Politicians from across South Lanarkshire have condemned attempts by opposition parties to end crucial rates reliefs schemes that benefit 4,400 businesses in South Lanarkshire 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 across South Lanarkshire would be set to lose £11,484,000 of relief under the plan. Local politicians have written to the leaders of the Conservatives & Labour parties in the Scottish Parliament to call on them to reverse their support for this damaging move.
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.
Christina McKelvie MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse commented:
“Businesses in Hamilton 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.”
South Lanarkshire Council Leader John Ross added: “More than 100,000 businesses across Scotland – and 4,400 in South Lanarkshire – 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.”
SNP Candidate for Lanark & Hamilton East, Angela Crawley added: “These plans would deliver a body blow to businesses across South Lanarkshire 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, particularly with the Tories disastrous plans to drag Scotland out of the European Union against our will, but this is just reckless.
“This makes crystal clear that the SNP is the only party that will stand up for Scottish business.”