Coming days after it was announced that the Scottish economy is on the brink of a recession and the new business rates regime came into effect, Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that the SNP Government didn’t assess how many businesses and jobs could be lost as a result of the rates changes.
SNP ministers previously refused to say what assessment has been conducted or reveal the results. A freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats has now revealed that this is because no work has been done in this respect.
Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Carolyn Caddick commented:
“It is astonishing that ministers don’t have the remotest idea of how many businesses may fail and how many jobs may be lost as a result of their business rates changes. Firms who fear they face going under before their appeals are heard will be horrified that ministers made little to no effort to quantify the impact of the new rates regime.
“Instead, the Scottish Government say they are informed by stakeholder engagement. That just seems to be another way of saying they will cobble together frenzied changes when there is a need to stem bad news. That isn’t just blasé, it is reckless.
“Ministers had the chance to wait to hear back from the Barclay review, the independent expert group currently looking at fundamental changes to the business rates system. Ministers had the chance to introduce a moratorium until they got their act together. They did neither.
“In the week that we learned Scotland is on the brink of a recession, SNP ministers need be fair to businesses and that starts with properly evaluating the impact of policies before they are introduced.”