256mil­lion rea­sons the SNP is anti busi­ness...

That’s ex­tra su­per­tax bill

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose SCOT­TISH PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

SCOT­TISH busi­nesses are pay­ing £256 mil­lion more for op­er­at­ing north of the Bor­der – thanks to an SNP su­per­tax.

The crip­pling cost of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s large busi­ness rates sup­ple­ment is set out in full to­day.

It will have cost firms more than half a bil­lion pounds from when it was launched in 2016-17 to the end of 2019-20. That is dou­ble the amount those com­pa­nies would have paid south of the Bor­der.

The Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium un­cov­ered the fig­ures and urged Min­is­ters to ‘re­store a level play­ing field with Eng­land’.

Next year will be the fourth since the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment dou­bled the large busi­ness rate sup­ple­ment from 1.3p in the pound – the English level.

De­spite the name, it is not al­ways big firms that are hit. Any busi­ness in premises with a rate­able value of £51,000 – based on the es­ti­mated mar­ket rental value – is af­fected.

In many cases this can be shops with large show­rooms.

In 2016, McAree Broth­ers crafts shop left Stir­ling af­ter 138 years in the city, cit­ing the sup­ple­ment as the rea­son for shut­ting.

And Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium di­rec­tor David Lons­dale said McAree Broth­ers is not alone in be­ing af­fected by the tax. The num­ber of shops in Scot­land fell by 900 over the past four years, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics – a faster re­duc­tion than else­where in the UK.

Mr Lons­dale said: ‘These are test­ing times for re­tail­ers, who are hav­ing to con­tend with pro­found changes in shop­ping habits as well as squeezed con­sumer spend­ing.

‘Re­spond­ing pos­i­tively to this is made all the harder by hav­ing to fork out for gov­ern­ment-im­posed costs, such as the rates sur­charge.’

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment also re­fused to pass on a UK tax cut to Scot­tish work­ers, mean­ing any­one earn­ing more than £27,000 will pay more than they do in Eng­land.

And the Scot­tish Fis­cal Com­mis­sion fore­casts that the slug­gish econ­omy north of the Bor­der will grow more slowly than the across the UK as a whole.

Murdo Fraser, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive fi­nance spokesman, said: ‘The SNP has failed to re­vi­talise the Scot­tish econ­omy and failed to sup­port Scot­tish busi­nesses by in­creas­ing the tax gap with the rest of the UK.

‘The SNP must reconsider the puni­tive large busi­ness rate sup­ple­ment and level the play­ing field for Scot­tish busi­ness.’

John O’Con­nell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tax­Pay­ers’ Al­liance, said: ‘Busi­ness rates need real re­form, not per­pet­ual in­creases.’

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in­sisted that, over­all, its busi­ness rates were less pun­ish­ing than those in the rest of the UK.

‘The SNP has failed to re­vi­talise the econ­omy’

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