Tories attack Midlothian business rates rise

Rachel Hamilton MSP.
Rachel Hamilton MSP.

The Scottish Conservatives have attacked the SNP government, angry that the recent business rates rise will hit 40 per cent of businesses in Midlothian.

Scottish Government figures have revealed that of the 2856 rateable business properties in the county 1142 of them face an increase in the charge. However, Cabinet Minister for Finance Derek Mackay MSP has given a one year respite to some restaurants, hotels and pubs by announcing a cap of 12.5 per cent on rates payable.

Conservative South Scotland list MSP Rachael Hamilton said: “It has taken almost three months of pressure for the Scottish Government to finally offer help to the hospitality industry, and this first step is to be welcomed.

“And now it turns out that their proposed plan does not go far enough and many other businesses will not receive help at all. The current business rates system is not fit for purpose and needs a complete overhaul.”

Scottish Conservative Lothian list MSP, Jeremy Balfour added: “Forty per cent of businesses in Midlothian will see an increase in their business rates yet only 61 businesses will be helped by the Finance Secretary’s recent announcement.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our package of measures delivers a tax cut of £155 million, which will help those who might be impacted by a revaluation. From April 1, more than half of Scottish businesses will pay no rates, seven out of ten will pay either no or less rates than they do currently, and the total package of reliefs we are offering will increase to more than £660 million.

“Councils are empowered to apply further reductions to address any local issues as they see fit. Any business that is concerned should contact the assessor and discuss the provisional value. Companies have until September to appeal and we would encourage firms to take up those opportunities.”