Scottish retail leaders welcome freeze on business rates

John Swinney at the SGF hustings

But sector wants more from ScotGov

CONVENIENCE channel leaders have welcomed the Scottish Government’s 2023-24 budget moves to keep financial pressures off businesses.

Falling in line with England and Wales, John Swinney MSP revealed on 15 December that Scottish business rates will be frozen for the year ahead.

Delivering the budget for the next financial year, Swinney said: “The Scottish Government Budget 2023-24 takes place in the most turbulent economic and financial context most people can remember.”

With the frozen rates, the businesses poundage will remain at 49.8 pence for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Along with this, the 100% relief threshold for the Small Business Bonus scheme has been reduced from £15,000 to £12,000.

Pete Cheema, chief exec at the Scottish Grocers Federation, said: “At the very least, the deputy first minister should match the targeted support announced for retail in the chancellor’s autumn statement.

“Instead, many small businesses will see their rates relief dropping by up to 75%.”

However, David Lonsdale, director at the Scottish Retail Consortium, stressed the need for ScotGov to continue examining rates relief further as he claimed Scottish businesses still face a higher poundage rate than the rest of the UK.

He said: “Business rates need recast for the years ahead, beginning with a timetable for returning the poundage to a permanently lower level and faster restoration of the level playing field with England on the higher property rate.”

Food & Drink Federation Scotland chief David Thomson said: “The freeze on the non-domestic basic property rate will provide some relief, while further investment in the Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund is welcome.

“The Scottish Government, however, needs to be ruthless in dropping or postponing proposed laws which, if brought in, will hit the pockets of businesses and consumers.”