Scottish retailers criticise move to increase rates

bagpipe figures with a half price sale sign
Image caption The government believes retail rate rises will generate more money

Retailers and business groups have criticised Scottish government plans to increase rates for large stores and out-of-town shopping centres.

In his draft budget John Swinney said he would raise money by raising the rates.

He added that the move would also help support local town centres.

But the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) accused the government of "jeopardising future development, growth and jobs in the retail sector".

Fiona Moriarty, director of the SRC said: "This is an outrageous, unexpected and unjustified move by the Scottish Government.

"Retailers already pay a quarter of all business rates, the highest proportion of any business sector."

She added: "Supermarkets and other large retailers play a vital role in the Scottish economy, providing jobs, services, value and choice as well as investing in training and regeneration."

David Lonsdale of CBI Scotland said he was "deeply concerned".

He went on: "Supermarkets have been one of the few bright spots in the economy over recent years and levying extra rates will hit their investment plans."

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said this was a "hammer blow to a sector that has been creating jobs in Scotland".

However, a spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the move.

Andy Willox said it would help "redress the balance between town centres with independent retailers and supermarkets and out-of-town developments".

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Legislation will shortly be laid before parliament setting out the detail of this proposal, which is designed to help redress the balance between town centres, and the large supermarkets and out of town retail parks."

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