The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) opposes the proposed move to scrap the Uniform Business Rate in Scotland stating that this would be damaging to member businesses creating an unnecessary burden and potential increased costs. The Association is urging MSPs to vote against the proposed changes when Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill is debated and voted on in the Scottish Parliament later this month.

In November 2019 Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee backed a Green Party Amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, at Stage 2, which ends the uniform business rate and instead hands over this £2.8 billion tax to the 32 local authorities enabling them to set their own poundage rate, rates relief and any local rates supplements.

In a letter to both Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work and Jackson Carlaw MSP, acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives the HTA raises concern urging them to vote against the amendments.

Other than employee costs, taxes such as property rates are the next biggest expenditure for many HTA  member businesses in Scotland. Whilst not perfect Uniform Business Rates do provide businesses with consistency and predictability. It allows those businesses with multiple locations across different authorities in Scotland and across the whole of the UK, to plan a financial year.

Commenting on this, HTA Chairman, James Barnes said: “Our members want a fair and reasonable tax system which values and promotes business competitiveness and minimises complexity in Scotland. Business rates have increased substantially over the last ten years with significant disparities – garden centres in Scotland are paying a significantly higher rate per square foot, than those in England. We see no need for these further unpredictable and potentially higher tax-raising changes.”

As well as writing to the Cabinet Secretary and Leader of the Opposition directly the Association is asking its Scottish members to urgently write to their local MSPs, encouraging them to vote against the changes.

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