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[ 25-01-2011 ]

As MSPs in the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee prepare to put the controversial retail business rates levy to the vote tomorrow (26 January), Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The Scottish Parliament now has a crucial opportunity to put the Scottish Government’s proposed retail rates levy to the test.  During the past few weeks, MSPs have heard the evidence of the impact this tax is likely to have.  It will not just hit out of town supermarkets, as the Government have claimed.  Instead it will impact on a wide variety of shops across numerous city and town centres in Scotland, damaging our attractiveness as a retail venue and threatening future investment prospects.  It could affect the ability of large businesses to invest with the hundreds of smaller Scottish businesses in their supply chain and could also threaten the long term viability of Scotland’s Business Improvement Districts, where businesses large and small alike have come together for the betterment of local economies across Scotland.
“In contrast, the additional money raised would be a drop in the ocean in terms of the Scottish Government’s budget, representing just 0.001% of its projected revenue and should therefore have no material effect on the provision of frontline services.
“We know that Scotland’s economic recovery is fragile, and we have seen this week that we cannot take economic growth for granted.  Government must use its powers to support new jobs and investment in the private sector rather than piling on more burdens in the form of higher business rates.  Scotland’s retail sector employs over 250,000 people, with more than 175,000 employed by large retailers.  These are jobs that must be protected and expanded, not threatened by an unnecessary and unwarranted tax increase.
“It is time for our Parliamentarians to subject these plans to scrutiny and reach a decision that puts Scotland’s economy first.”