Twenty-seven of the country’s leading business representative groups and sectoral trade associations have written a joint letter to MSPs, urging them to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate.

 

The 27 organisations represent a wide cross section of Scottish industry including manufacturing, retail, property, tourism, hospitality and leisure.

 

The collective call comes ahead of the final Stage 3 vote on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, expected over the next few weeks. The text of the letter is as follows:

 

Dear MSP,

 

Retain the Uniform Business Rate

 

We are writing to you ahead of Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill to voice our alarm and shared concern over recently adopted amendments which seek to scrap the Uniform Business Rate and instead hand control over this £2.8 billion tax to each of the 32 local authorities to set their own poundage rate, rates reliefs, and any supplements or surcharges.

 

Our ambition is for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions. It is why we have supported the thrust of the Bill.

 

However, we are profoundly concerned with the abolition of the Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs, and the consistency and predictability they bring.

 

We fear this could lead to higher business rates bills, at a time when the poundage rate is already at a 20-year high and with a further increase pencilled in for this Spring, and when businesses want to invest and grow the Scottish economy.

 

We therefore urge you and fellow MSPs to overturn these amendments, which simply introduce fresh complexity, cost and unpredictability into the rates system, and which are at odds with the rates reform agenda of ensuring competitiveness and minimising complexity.

 

We want Scotland to be a great place to do business. Retaining the Uniform Business Rate would be a positive step in the right direction.

 

Your sincerely,

 

James Lowman, Chief Executive, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS)

Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland

Grahame Barn, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland (CECA)

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive, Company Chemists’ Association

Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses

David Thomson, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation Scotland

Ian Cass, Managing Director, Forum of Private Business

James Barnes, Chairman, The Horticultural Trades Association

Hilary Hall, Chief Executive, National Hair & Beauty Federation

Edward Cooke, Chief Executive, Revo

Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, SCDI

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive, Scottish Beer & Pub Association

Karen Betts, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association

Alasdair Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Bakers

Brian Rogan, Chair, Business Rates Advisory Group, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering

Dr Pete Cheema OBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF)

Colin Wilkinson, Managing Director, Scottish Licensed Trade Association

David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance

Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesale Association

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)

Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association

Willie Macleod, Executive Director, UKHospitality