Plea made for rates relief in Scottish Budget

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Budget week: decisions will be made at Holyrood parliament in Edinburgh (credit: Getty/godrick)
Budget week: decisions will be made at Holyrood parliament in Edinburgh (credit: Getty/godrick)

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Hospitality businesses in Scotland must be given a relief in business rates in the Budget this week to survive this winter, according to a trio of trade bodies.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, Scottish Licensed Trade Association and UKHospitality Scotland are jointly calling on the deputy first minister and acting finance secretary John Swinney to help hospitality businesses by at least matching Westminster chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s vow to support pubs and bars through business rates help, which he pledged in his Autumn Budget last month​.

In a joint statement, the three associations said: “The hospitality industry is vital to the economy of Scotland, to local high streets and communities, but the current economic downturn and a range of other unprecedented challenges will see many unfortunately fail without meaningful intervention on business rates.”

Match the support

They continued: “Not only must the cabinet secretary commit to matching a freeze on the UBR (Uniform Business Rates) in Scotland, but he must also match the support for the sector in England and Wales, where a 75% rates relief package will be in place. The sector desperately needs this to survive, to continue to provide employment for staff and remain competitive with our neighbours.

“The industry expects that the Barnett consequentials coming from Westminster will be ringfenced to support the sectors still scrambling along the road to recovery.

“The hospitality sector faced the brunt of the pandemic but managed to remain resilient and yet we continue to be held back, in part due to the discriminatory nature of the rating system in Scotland, which disproportionately burdens the sector more than any other. This needs to be taken into consideration by the finance secretary when deciding the level of support.”

Call for review 

They continued: “We repeat our calls for a further review of Scotland’s commercial rating system as soon as possible but, right now, the Scottish government must truly see the reality of the situation and lend the same support as that given to our English and Welsh counterparts.

“Every day is a challenge for our pubs and bars who have worked very hard post-Covid and Brexit to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry but we need more help to protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”

The Scottish Budget is set to take place on Thursday 15 December.

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