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[ 28-06-2010 ]

Scottish Chambers of Commerce are sending a senior delegation to meet with Finance Secretary, John Swinney MSP, on Monday 28 June to discuss the damage that uncapped business rate increases are causing to Scottish businesses.  Led by SCC Chairman, Mike Salter, Chambers are seeking an urgent restoration of Transitional Relief to cushion businesses against the excesses of this year’s rates revaluation and a commitment from the Cabinet Secretary that rating appeals will be viewed sympathetically in the light of the effects of the recession.  Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“40% of Scottish businesses are worse off as a result of this year’s business rates revaluation.  To make matters worse, many of these businesses have been exposed to massive rates rises – in one case of 414% – as a result of the Scottish Government’s decision to abandon Transitional Relief.  Such a scheme is continuing to operate in England, where businesses as a result will pay no more than 12.5% per year extra.  At a time when Scottish businesses are working hard to emerge from the longest and deepest recession in post-war history, this is an unacceptable position.
“Over the past few months, Chambers of Commerce across Scotland have been holding a series of meetings with the Finance Secretary, John Swinney MSP, giving him the opportunity to hear directly from businesses of all sizes about the effects that high business rate increases are having on their business.  Make no mistake, where a small or even mediums sized business has to find tens of thousands of pounds extra to pay their rates bill this year, the result could mean job losses, and it could even threaten the viability of the business itself.
“I know that Mr Swinney has listened carefully to the representations of the Chamber network and that he understands the pressures of high rates bills being felt by many businesses.  For our part, we recognise the fact that many businesses will continue to receive support from the many relief schemes that do exist, such as the Small Business Bonus Scheme.  However this year’s rates rise comes at the worst possible time for many businesses – uncapped increases of up to 414%, revealed to businesses just 3 or 4 weeks before bills were issued, left businesses with no time to plan and a high hurdle to overcome.
“Our collective meeting with the Minister will bring together the case that we have been making across Scotland and we look forward to positive and fruitful discussions with the Finance Secretary.”