FSB: Business trust eroded by budget concessions

This afternoon the Cabinet Secretary for Finance Derek Mackay announced changes to his draft budget to secure parliamentary support. He outlined a range of new measures which will have an impact on smaller businesses.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “The Scottish Government’s draft budget was a spending programme that most firms could welcome.

“But today we’ve seen concessions from the Cabinet Secretary for Finance that will erode the small business community’s trust in his administration. Instead of Brexit help for firms, we see more tax changes, including a levy on our vital tourism industry.

“Ministers repeatedly promised firms that they would not pave the way for tourism taxes without industry support. They’re breaking that promise today.

“Increased plastic bag and cup charges and new workplace parking levies won’t be the end of the world, but it hardly sends out the message that Ministers understand the pressure that households and businesses are under.

“We are also concerned that the decision to allow local authorities to control empty property rate relief sets a worrying precedent, could lead to the full localisation of the rates system and eventual higher bills for local businesses. It also runs roughshod over commitments associated with the Barclay review of business rates.

“These measures alone will unlikely be the difference between success and failure for many firms. But when business pleaded for stability, it doesn’t seem like we were heard. We’ll make the case to mitigate the impact of these proposals, but Ministers have bridges to build.”