Ahead of the upcoming Programme for Government, UKH Scotland executive director Leon Thompson has outlined the need for a commitment from the First Minister that rates will not rise with inflation, in order to avoid heaping further cost pressures on already strapped venues.
The Scottish Government is also being urged to move forward with recommendations from the New Deal for Business Group to review non-domestic rates.
Thompson said the First Minister had an “invaluable opportunity” to set out a positive vision for the sector, after the Deposit Return Scheme chaos and cost-of-doing-business crisis led to an “extremely challenging year” for hospitality.
He believed action on business rates to be essential to delivering for hospitality.
Show of support
The executive director continued: “The expected inflation-linked rates hike in April could deliver a multi-million pound blow to businesses and a commitment from the First Minister that rates will not rise with inflation would give businesses the head-room they desperately need.
“With the vast majority of rates increasing last year and no offer of financial support, unlike in England and Wales, the business rates burden leaves many in a perilous situation and it needs to be addressed.
“Making such a commitment, alongside taking up recommendations to review non-domestic rates, would be a clear show of support to the sector."
He continued: “After years of wasted time and resource preparing for the Deposit Return Scheme, the introduction of a tourist tax and new charges on single-use cups, the sector would be grateful for this year’s legislative agenda to simply not include plans that are harmful to hospitality.
“The First Minister spoke of a ‘reset moment’ with businesses upon his appointment this year and, while there has been a shift, this can be cemented in his upcoming Programme for Government with clear action to address the enduring issue of business rates.”