Save the Uniform Business Rate

Save the Uniform Business Rate

Update 4.2.20: Thanks to MSP’s who voted today to keep the Universal Business Rate

CECA Scotland has joined with twenty-six of Scotland’s leading trade associations and business representative groups to urge MSP’s to retain the Uniform Business Rate.

A joint letter has today (15th January 2020) been delivered to Scotland’s MSP’s, urging them to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate when the Non-Domestic rates (Scotland) Bill comes before Parliament for final approval during the next few weeks.

Commenting on the issue, Grahame Barn said:

“CECA Scotland members already face difficult economic conditions. With civils workloads struggling, costs continuing to rise and little sign of light at the end of the tunnel, there is a real risk the changes proposed to business rates would magnify those challenges at a time when margins are already extremely tight.

We would urge MSPs to retain the uniform rate to provide much needed certainty to businesses wherever they operate in Scotland”.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear MSP,

Retain the Uniform Business Rate

We are writing to you ahead of Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill to voice our alarm and shared concern over recently adopted amendments which seek to scrap the Uniform Business Rate and instead hand control over this £2.8 billion tax to each of the 32 local authorities to set their own poundage rate, rates reliefs, and any supplements or surcharges.

Our ambition is for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions. It is why we have supported the thrust of the Bill.

However, we are profoundly concerned with the abolition of the Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs, and the consistency and predictability they bring.

We fear this could lead to higher business rates bills, at a time when the poundage rate is already at a 20-year high and with a further increase pencilled in for this Spring, and when businesses want to invest and grow the Scottish economy.

We therefore urge you and fellow MSPs to overturn these amendments, which simply introduce fresh complexity, cost and unpredictability into the rates system, and which are at odds with the rates reform agenda of ensuring competitiveness and minimising complexity.

We want Scotland to be a great place to do business. Retaining the Uniform Business Rate would be a positive step in the right direction.

Your sincerely,

James Lowman, Chief Executive, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS)

Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland

Grahame Barn, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland (CECA)

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive, Company Chemists’ Association

Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses

David Thomson, Chief Executive, Food and Drink Federation Scotland

Ian Cass, Managing Director, Forum of Private Business

James Barnes, Chairman, The Horticultural Trades Association

Hilary Hall, Chief Executive, National Hair & Beauty Federation

Edward Cooke, Chief Executive, Revo

Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, SCDI

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive, Scottish Beer & Pub Association

Karen Betts, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association

Alasdair Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Bakers

Brian Rogan, Chair, Business Rates Advisory Group, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering

Dr Pete Cheema OBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF)

Colin Wilkinson, Managing Director, Scottish Licensed Trade Association

David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance

Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesale Association

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)

Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association

Willie Macleod, Executive Director, UKHospitality


Note: At Stage 2 of the Bill the Local Government & Communities Committee voted to end the Scotland-wide Uniform Business Rate, and instead hand control over the setting of the business rate poundage and rates reliefs to each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. A number of organisations subsequently wrote to the Committee voicing concern.