Scotland’s 32 local authorities are to be given the power to cut business rates to boost economic activity and encourage commercial property investment.
The official announcement is expected to come from Deputy First Minister John Swinney in his speech to the SNP’s annual conference later today.
Currently, business rates in Scotland are set centrally, but from 31 October council’s will be free to reduce bills based on their chosen criteria, such as property type or location. They will also be able retain all the business rates they collect.
In a preview of the speech reported by the BBC, Mr Swinney says Scotland already has the most competitive business rates in the UK, but the government wants to give local authorities greater freedom.
“With these new flexibilities councils could, for example, use their local knowledge to attract new investment into town centres and help create vibrant communities where people want to live, socialise and do business.,” he continues.
Responding to the news Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our hope is that local authorities will make use of these new levers to help reduce the burden of business rates, which has grown substantially in recent years.”
David Martin, head of policy and external affairs at the Scottish Retail Consortium, adds: “The current system of business rates has become a tax on jobs and growth and undermines investment in property, especially in town centres and high streets.
“There is a strong and growing consensus across business and industry that the current system is out of date and no longer fit for purpose.”
Credit Deal gives Atrium €150m Retail War Chest