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MSP opposes axing business rate relief

By Fiona Reid
MSP opposes axing business rate relief

THE Scottish Government has condemned an attempt to end crucial rates reliefs schemes that benefit more than 6000 businesses in this region.

SNP MSP Emma Harper has criticised Conservative and Labour MSPs for voting for an amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates poundage and give those powers to councils. She believes it would spell the end of reliefs, like the Small Business Bonus and the Business Growth Accelerator, which are worth hundreds of millions annually to Scottish business.

Ms Harper said: “Dumfries and Galloway businesses need an escape from Brexit – not yet more uncertainty and unnecessary cost. “In Dumfries and Galloway more than 6000 businesses benefit with nearly £10 million awarded in relief from the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus and the Business Growth Accelerator which ensures that businesses that build new premises or enhance existing ones pay no more for the first year. Both of these would disappear under the proposals being forced through by opposition parties.

“A majority of Scottish businesses benefit from the lowest poundage anywhere in the UK and incentives that only exist in Scotland. All that is under threat as ministers would not be able to set a consistent rate and provide national reliefs. “These plans would deliver a body blow to Scottish business and would put at risk the delivery of local services.”

And Ms Harper called on the Opposition to “back track on this disastrous move”, which she described as ‘reckless’.

Adding his voice to the debate was businessman Kerr Little, of the Little Bakery in Dumfries, who said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of Dumfries and Galloway and there’s only really five or six large businesses here with the bulk of businesses dependent on business rate reliefs. Politicians who are voting against offering business rate relief schemes are totally out of touch with reality – particularly in rural areas such as this. It’s absolute madness!”

Front, Moffat

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