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SCOTTISH BUDGET: SCC WELCOMES CAPITAL INVESTMENT BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER BUSINESS RATES POLICY

[ 21-09-2011 ]

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s announcement of its draft budget and spending review, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: 
 
“This was always going to be a difficult budget, with the Scottish Government requiring to balance enforced reductions in the Scottish block grant against the need to invest to ensure future economic growth.  In this regard there is much to welcome in this budget, particularly the decision to divert £750 million from the revenue budget into capital expenditure.  Scottish businesses have consistently called for capital spending to be preserved and this decision is great news both to our construction sector and to the wider economy.  Our hope is that this additional funding will prioritise projects which will deliver the greatest economic value to Scotland, particularly transport schemes, and we welcome the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to the Forth Crossing, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route and Borders Rail.
 
“The news on Scotland’s Business Rates is less positive.  Whilst we welcome the commitment to review the Business Rates regime prior to the next revaluation in 2015, and the commitment to both the Small Business Bonus Scheme and rate poundage parity with England, there is some potential bad news in the shape of changes to Empty Property Relief and the return of the large retail levy under a new guise.  We are seeking greater clarity from the Scottish Government on both of these potential threats to business.
 
“Rates issues aside, we welcome the overall tone of the budget and spending review.  It is clear that the Scottish Government is seeking to put the economy first and that it recognises the scale of the challenge ahead.  The public sector pay freeze will be painful but it is necessary to ensure economic growth in the longer term.
 
“The Draft Scottish Budget and Spending Review is a good starting point.  Much more information on the Scottish Government’s detailed plans will be needed over the next few months before a final verdict can be passed upon it.  It is vital that the Government gets this right if we are to ensure the success of Scotland’s businesses, enabling us to continue on the path of job creation over the coming years.”

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