SWA takes action to save Uniform Business Rate

Industry unites to tackle decision and seeks support from MSPs

With the threat of the Scotland-wide Uniform Business Rate (UBR) coming to an end, the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) is collaborating with other leading business groups and trade associations across the sector in an effort to petition against the decision.

A total of 27 organisations wrote a letter to urge MSPs to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate. The groups represent a wide cross-section of Scottish industry including manufacturing, retail, property, tourism, hospitality and leisure.

This collective call comes ahead of the final Stage 3 vote on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, expected over the next few weeks. At Stage 2 of the Bill, the Local Government & Communities Committee voted to end the Scotland-wide Uniform Business Rate, and instead hand control over the setting of the business rate poundage and rates reliefs to each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Colin Smith, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wholesale Association, commented: “We share the view of the other business groups that there is a need for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions.

“The current Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs allow companies to plan as they are consistent and predictable. If the UBR is abolished, the major concern is that this could lead to higher business rates bills – hardly conducive to helping businesses to invest and grow.

“We don’t agree that handing over control of the rating system to Scotland’s local authorities is the way forward – it would result in a rates system that is more complex and costly, and put further pressure on hard-working business owners,” Smith continued.

“We’ve just come through one of the worst years for retail sales and what business now needs is certainty and a rates and tax system that supports business.

“Our biggest concern is the impact that this will have on our members’ customer base – small and independent retailers, local cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc, and what that will mean for the sustainability of their business.”

Colin Smith Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill Scottish wholesale Scottish Wholesale Association SWA SWA Chief Executive Uniform Business Rate