Scottish food and drink bodies call for rates freeze

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish food and drink bodies have called on the Government to freeze business rates
Scottish food and drink bodies have called on the Government to freeze business rates

Related tags Drink Bakery business rates

Representatives from across the Scottish food and drink industry have written to the Government calling for a freeze on business rates in the coming financial year.

The Food and Drink Federation Scotland, Scottish Bakers and the Scotch Whisky Association were among the 19 industry bodies that signed the letter to the Scottish Government’s Deputy First Minister and Interim Finance Secretary.

In it, signatories asked for the Scottish government to follow suit with their counterpart south of the border and similarly freeze the headline business rate poundage. The call comes ahead of the unveiling of the Scottish government’s budget on 15 December.

Costs and inflationary pressure

The letter recognised that the Government, like business, was facing its own costs and inflationary pressures and that headway had been made in recent years on broader aspects of rates reform – including more frequent revaluations, the retention of the uniform business rate and the pledge to restore parity on the higher property rate with England.

“Yet, after two turbulent years of the pandemic the fact is trading conditions remain challenging, the cost of doing business is spiralling, and the near-term economic outlook is weak,”​ read the letter.

“Given the decision taken in the UK Autumn Statement, we ask that at the very least Scottish Ministers follow suit and similarly freeze the headline business rate poundage in the coming financial year. This would aid firms with the costs crisis, help them keep down prices for customers, and ensure that no more Scottish commercial premises than currently do end up paying a higher business rate than applies down south. It would support business investment and retain Scotland’s competitiveness for most ratepayers.”

23-year high

Scotland’s business rates are reportedly at a 23-year high. Last week in the UK Government’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed the business rate in England would not increase next April.

 The joint letter from the business representative and trade bodies was submitted to John Swinney MSP, the Scottish Government’s Interim Finance Secretary, earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the frozen food sector is perfectly placed to help consumers off-set some of the effects of the cost-of-living crisis,​ claimed British Frozen Food Federation president and chairman Ian Stone.

Letter signatories

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium
Sandy Begbie CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Financial Enterprise
Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland
Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association
Marc Crothall MBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance
Huw Edwards, CEO, ukactive
Mark Kent, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association
Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive, Scottish Land & Estates
Warrick Malcolm, Director, ADS Scotland
Catherine McWilliam, Nations Director, IoD Scotland
David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation
Gordon Nelson, Scotland Director, Federation of Master Builders
Garry Richmond, Director, Print Scotland
Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering
Alasdair Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Bakers
Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesale Association
David Thomson, Chief Executive, Food & Drink Federation Scotland
Leon Thompson, Executive Director, UKHospitality Scotland

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