In a written submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government & Communities Committee, the trade union said the recent vote to devolve control over the poundage rate to local authorities could have ‘significant unintended consequences for retail and other sectors’ and exert ‘upward pressure on the poundage rate’, exacerbating the challenges facing the retail sector.
An analysis by the Scottish Retail Consortium of submissions to the Holyrood Committee reveals that 23 businesses and industry representative groups have urged MSPs to retain the Scotland-wide uniform business rate. MSPs on the Committee recently backed a Green Party amendment at Stage 2 of the Non-Domestic Rates Bill, which will scrap the uniform business rate in favour of allowing each of the 32 local authorities to set their own business rate, rates reliefs and any extra rates supplements or surcharges.
Stewart Forrest – Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer said:
“Usdaw is opposed to moves which would further devolve control of the poundage rate to local councils. We believe that such devolution could have significant unintended consequences for retail and other sectors. It could exacerbate the retail sector crisis, forcing more shops to close and therefore leading to a reduction in total revenue raised through business rates. I urge MSPs to engage with the industry and support calls for reforming business rates whilst retaining a uniform system across Scotland.”
David Lonsdale - Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium added:
“Usdaw’s intervention shows that a broad cross-section of voices from across Scottish industrial life are expressing serious doubts about the wisdom of ripping up the uniform business rate, and the predictability and consistency it brings. Handing councils' control over this £2.8 billion tax risks undermining the solid progress that is being made to make the rates system simpler and more predictable. We hope MSPs take heed and vote to save the uniform business rate at the final, Stage 3 vote expected later this month.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
Usdaw’s submission to the Parliament’s Local Government & Communities Committee: www.usdaw.org.uk/ScottishNDRBill
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion