MSP welcomes boost for business rates

Dalkeith High Street.
Dalkeith High Street.

Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame has welcomed the Scottish Government’s proposals on business rates, after the announcement of a national relief scheme for some small firms.

The proposal comes after a recent revaluation saw a number of Midlothian businesses facing a rise in the amount of rates they will pay from April this year.

However, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a national relief scheme that will offer support to businesses, especially the hospitality sector who will see any increases capped at 12.5 per cent.

Ms Grahame said that relief schemes will ensure that 60 per cent of Midlothian businesses will see either no change or a decrease in their business rates bill – with more businesses being entitled to support through the small business bonus scheme.

Ms Grahame added: “This support for the tourism and hospitality sectors is especially welcome given these industries were left facing substantial hikes in their rates bills.

“The cap of a 12.5 per cent increase for the next financial year provides reassurance to hotels, pubs, restaurants and cafes, and indeed their employees, throughout Midlothian.

“A review of the business rates system is currently underway and due to report to the Scottish Government in July. I understand they are taking on board the concerns raised by the hospitality sector with regards to disproportionate rises and will be actively engaging with them to ensure any future proposals take this into account.”

However, Conservative Lothian MSP, Jeremy Balfour said: “We’ve heard on more than one occasion that this budget has been maxed out, yet once again Mr Mackay has been able to find a bit more money down the back of the couch. For some local businesses this will be cold comfort, given it is for one year only.”

Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), welcomed the relief scheme, but called for a greater revamp of the rates system.

“The FSB has been lobbying the Scottish Government about this for a while. In the hospitality sector, some businesses were facing rates rises of up to 70 or 80 per cent.

“So we’re glad our comments have been taken on board.

“It’s very good news, but the cap only lasts for a year. We believe that the current system needs a wider revamp.”