A review of Scottish business rates is expected to address concerns that high street businesses are being unfairly taxed amid the rise of online and out-of-town retailers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.
Ms Sturgeon said there is a perception that “the burden of business rates doesn’t necessarily all fall on the right shoulders”.
In a briefing to journalists at Bute House, Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will scrutinise the conclusions of the review of business rates that is currently under way for reforms that improve the Scottish economy.
“All aspects of the business rates system come into view if we have a wholesale review, as we are doing,” she said.
“I’m not going to pre-empt the outcome of that review because it’s in the very early stages right now, but it is something that many of the business organisations have long called for.
“It’s a reflection of many different perceived anomalies in the business rates system – the growth of online shopping and the growth of out-of-town shopping – and a feeling that the burden of business rates doesn’t necessarily all fall on the right shoulders.
“So we will have a long, hard look at that and take decisions after that that we consider will be in the best interests of the economy.”
She added: “I think the proposals we put forward on business rates are right and balanced, but as well as specific proposals we also had in our manifesto – and indeed this work has already started – there is a commitment to an overall review of the business rates regime.
“We need to make sure that we don’t just look at particular elements of the business rates system but we make sure that, as a whole, that system is supporting a competitive economy and that we are seen to be and are a competitive place for businesses to invest.”