Scottish Property Federation joins call to ‘level playing field’ on business rates

Derek Mackay
Derek Mackay

Thirteen of Scotland’s leading business organisations have written a joint letter to the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for finance and the constitution seeking a reversal of the decision to double the Business Rates Large Business Supplement from 1.3p to 2.6p.

The organisations, which include the Scottish Property Federation, Scottish Chambers of Commerce and CBI Scotland, said cutting rates back to be in line with those in force in England would “level the playing field”.

A supplementary tax on large businesses was doubled this year from 1,3p in the pound to 2.6p, in what then finance secretary John Swinney called a “modest increase” aimed at maintaining the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

A government spokeswoman said rates policies would be “closely considered” for the next budget.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Derek Mackay MSP

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution

The Scottish Government

St Andrew’s House

Regent Road



5 September 2016

Dear Derek,

We do not yet know what the full economic consequences will be of the vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union but we welcome the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to support Scotland’s businesses wherever it can. The Scottish Government has a range of powers at its disposal which could be used now to deliver such support, including control over one of the principal business taxes: Business Rates.

Our organisations have a range of ideas on how Scotland’s system of Business Rates could be used to deliver the support to businesses that the Scottish Government is committed to, but we collectively believe that one measure requires to be taken in your upcoming Budget in order to level the playing field on Business Rates between Scotland and England. That is, to reverse the decision to double the rate of the Large Business Supplement from 1.3 pence in the pound to 2.6 pence in the pound.

This supplement affects one out of every eight commercial premises in Scotland and is expected to add a further £62 million to these businesses’ rates bills in the current year. Reducing the surcharge to the level which applies in England would not only be fair and make Scotland’s Business Rates more competitive, but would also help to reduce the cost base of many hard pressed businesses at this time of economic uncertainty.

We appreciate that the 2017 rates revaluation is looming and that the work of the Barclay Review of Business Rates is just beginning to get underway, but a reduction in the Large Business Supplement back to 1.3 pence would go a long way to levelling the Business Rates playing field across the United Kingdom.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Aitken, director, CBI Scotland

Richard Bird, executive officer, British Aggregates Association

Bryan Buchan, chief executive, Scottish Engineering

Liz Cameron, chief executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Pete Cheema, chief executive, Scottish Grocers Federation

Marc Crothall, chief executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance

David Frost, chief executive, Scotch Whisky Association

David Lonsdale, director, Scottish Retail Consortium

Willie Macleod, executive director, British Hospitality Association Scotland

Ross Martin, chief executive, Scottish Council for Development and Industry

David Melhuish, director, Scottish Property Federation

David Thomson, CEO, Scottish Food and Drink Federation

David Watt, executive director, Institute of Directors Scotland

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