The Oban Times & WEST HIGHLAND TIMES
is a hard fact of life that we must all pay taxes. It is the price we pay to live in a civilised society where services are provided for us.
However, the level of taxes we are asked to contribute must be fair and sustainable. So it must be obvious to anyone who has been following the highly controversial plan to review non- domestic (or business) rates that the proposed new demands were neither fair nor sustainable.
The system used to assess how much each company must pay is, it is fair to say, convoluted and complex (see page five), and busi nesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, have been in touch to say they fear they will be forced to close their business unless the new levy is reduced. Considering how heavily Argyll and the Isles depends on tourism, it is a serious concern.
Derek Mackay’s announcement on Tuesday offering a new national relief for small businesses, capping tax increases for hotels at 12.5 per cent, has gone some way to alleviating that worry. But the fight does not stop there, because the relief is only for one year, until the Barclay report is published in July and the Scottish Government has time to assess the findings.
At a time when the local economy is doing well – especially tourism – it makes no sense to bring in swingeing increases in business rates. The Scottish Government must think very carefully about this review.