In a preliminary response to today’s unveiling of the Scottish Government’s draft Scottish Budget by the Finance Secretary, David Lonsdale, SRC Director, said:
“Ahead of this Budget the SRC called on the Scottish Government to prioritise economic growth by not hitting customers or retailers with increased costs. The Finance Secretary appears to have taken much of that to heart.
“Retailers will be supportive of much of what was announced today, although as ever they will reserve full judgement until all the detail becomes clear. The government is right not to increase income tax rates. Taking almost £500 million out of the pockets of consumers would have been damaging to the Scottish economy at a time when inflation and council tax are rising; the latter by up to £181 million next year according to the Budget document.
“It is also welcome to hear that the Scottish Government has listened to our calls to invest in improving productivity. The investments in digital and transport infrastructure will assist this. However, we hope to see more detail which will confirm Apprenticeship Levy-paying employers will be able to access a fair portion of the new flexible workforce fund. Firms begin paying this new levy from April so we need to hear much more about the detail of this promising move in early course.
“The decision to continue to match the headline poundage rate in England is sensible, which makes it all the more disappointing that Scottish Ministers have fumbled the opportunity to comprehensively reverse this year’s doubling of the Large Business Rates Supplement. The Finance Secretary has at least acknowledged our concerns by seeking to increase the supplement threshold which will remove some modest-sized premises from this extra tax, however clinging to this Scotland-only rates surcharge ensures 21,000 commercial premises including many shops will continue to pay higher business rates than they would in comparable premises down south. The doubling of the supplement took no account of trading conditions, which makes it all the more pressing that the ongoing Barclay Review of Rates delivers a modern and fit for purpose rates regime that flexes with the economy.”
1. About the SRC: Retail is an exciting diverse and dynamic industry undergoing transformational change. The SRC is at the forefront – enhancing, assisting, informing, and shaping. Our mission is to make a positive difference to the retail industry and the customers it serves.
2. A copy of the SRC Budget Submission, Open for Business, is attached to this release.
3. The Scottish Budget can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/12/6610