SNP told to scrap high taxes to save strug­gling firms

The Herald - - POLITICS - ALIS­TAIR GRANT

SNP min­is­ters are be­ing urged to re­think rules which mean Scots firms pay tens of mil­lions of pounds more in tax ev­ery year than their coun­ter­parts south of the Bor­der.

The Scot­tish Tories high­lighted fig­ures show­ing Scot­tish busi­nesses will have paid an ad­di­tional £190 mil­lion com­pared to their equiv­a­lents in Eng­land by the end of this fi­nan­cial year.

It comes as a re­port warned there has been an “ac­cel­er­a­tion” in the num­ber of shops clos­ing across Scot­land’s high streets.

Re­search by PWC found an av­er­age of two stores close ev­ery week as re­tail­ers strug­gle with the growth of on­line shop­ping.

Scot­tish Tory shadow econ­omy sec­re­tary Dean Lock­hart said busi­nesses con­tin­ued to suf­fer un­der the SNP.

He said: “The SNP has now made Scot­land the high­est-taxed part of the UK for in­come tax and the high­est-taxed part of the UK to run a busi­ness.

“It is no won­der that our high streets are strug­gling and busi­ness num­bers are fall­ing dra­mat­i­cally across Scot­land.

“The SNP must fo­cus on im­prov­ing the Scot­tish econ­omy, not im­pos­ing un­sus­tain­able taxes on Scot­tish busi­nesses.”

Larger Scot­tish firms pay more tax than their English coun­ter­parts due to the SNP Gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial large busi­ness rates sup­ple­ment, which dou­bled in 2016.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show traders north of the Bor­der will have paid £190,776,450 in ex­tra tax since the changes were brought in by the end of this fi­nan­cial year.

David Lons­dale, di­rec­tor of the Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium, said the “Scot­land-only sur­charge” meant busi­ness rates are higher than down south for 22,000 medium-sized and larger com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial premises.

He said: “This in­cludes 5,128 re­tail premises, who are hav­ing to cough up an ex­tra £14.1m each year.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “We have taken the de­ci­sion to sup­port the econ­omy by pri­ori­tis­ing small busi­nesses and in­tro­duc­ing unique mea­sures like the Growth Ac­cel­er­a­tor, which ben­e­fit all busi­nesses, large and small.

“We pro­vide the most com­pet­i­tive rates re­lief in the UK, worth around £720m, in­clud­ing the Small Busi­ness Bonus Scheme, which alone lifts 100,000 prop­er­ties out of rates al­to­gether.”

„ Dean Lock­hart said busi­nesses were suf­fer­ing un­der the SNP.

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