Injecting greater certainty into fiscal plans coupled with decisive action to reduce business taxes and boost consumer spending should be at the heart of the upcoming Scottish Budget, according to the retail industry.
In its Budget submission - entitled Certainty, Competitiveness, Confidence - sent earlier this week to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) says retailers are re-inventing themselves for the future in the face of profound changes in shopping habits, weak demand and spiralling costs.
Retail is Scotland’s largest private sector employer, providing a quarter of a million jobs. However, it is an industry in transition and recent data has shown flatlining retail sales, declining footfall, fewer shops, and a 9% drop in retail jobs on Scotland’s high streets.
The submission from the leading sectoral trade body comes ahead of the expected publication later this year of the devolved administration’s tax and spending plans for 2020-21. The 12-page paper covers business rates, workplace parking levy, new environmental charges, income tax, council tax, skills, town centres, and regulation.
Specifically, the SRC is recommending:
- Injecting certainty into fiscal decisions through a 2-year Budget Accord with Opposition MSPs
- Restoration of the level playing field with England on the large business rates supplement
- A timetabled plan to reduce the headline business rate
- No increases in income tax rates
- A retail strategy co-produced with the industry