In a response to questions lodged by North East MSP Mike Rumbles the Scottish Government Finance Minister has refused to say whether the Scottish Government has made any assessment of how many businesses could fail as a result of the proposed business rates revaluations.
This week, following sustained pressure from local businesses, press and politicians, the Scottish Government U-turned on planned business rates hike for thousands of medium sized businesses by introducing a National Relief Scheme – limiting the rates rise to 12.5% for 9500 businesses.
Mr Rumbles said:
“The Finance Secretary refuses to say what, if any, assessment the Scottish Government has made of how many businesses these rates hikes have put at risk. Considering the potential impact of these changes its speaks of a reckless Government if no assessment has been done.
“Either the Cabinet Secretary doesn’t have a clue or he doesn’t want to tell us. Neither of those answers is going to be reassuring to the thousands of business owners who are seeing their rates double.
“It is vital that we keep the pressure on the Scottish Government, both locally and in Holyrood, to ensure that no businesses in the North East fail due to rates increases.
“I will be asking further questions to the Cabinet Secretary to give him the chance to answer the question I originally asked.”
Aberdeenshire Liberal Democrat council group spokesperson Fergus Hood added:
“Scottish Liberal Democrats in council have argued that a transitional scheme would be the right thing to do and the Scottish Government’s own consultation showed that a majority of businesses support this.
“We welcome the climb down on rates for some medium sized businesses, however there are many more employers that will still be forced to cope with these punishing increases.
“Now is the worst time imaginable to be stripping our local employers of their ability to employ more staff. So the campaign to protect our local economy from this wrong-headed revaluation must continue.”