Draft Scottish budget welcomed by trade groups


THE Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2020-2021 has been welcomed by trade groups.

The introduction of a new intermediate rate on non-domestic properties, a commitment to low-carbon projects and funding for infrastructure were among some of the policies commended by the trade.

UK Hospitality executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said he hopes the measures announced on February 6 are “a first step to reducing the unfair burden on all hospitality businesses”.

“The decision to introduce a new intermediate rate on properties with a rateable value between £51,000 and £95,000 will provide much-needed relief for thousands of Scottish businesses, but we hope it is a first step to reducing the unfair burden on all hospitality businesses,” said Macleod.

“We also welcome the £201 million that has been set aside for city funding and growth deals, which will provide a boost to Scotland’s cities, helping to attract both domestic and international tourists. The commitment to support a move towards a low carbon economy is a positive step and we look forward to engaging with Government on how hospitality can play its part in this.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance echoed this message and said the proposals outlined by the Scottish Government are positive steps for the trade.

Crothall said: “As we move towards the launch of Scotland’s future tourism strategy and headline actions on the 4th March, we are encouraged at the supportive measures for businesses announced today, one of which will see 95% of properties paying a lower poundage in business rates than the rest of the UK in addition to business rates relief for many businesses.

“This is hugely positive news for the tourism sector in particular and I am sure that many of our businesses will welcome the opportunity to capitalise on this relief and turn thoughts towards investment in their product and people.

“Overall, we are encouraged by the support for businesses, infrastructure and our destinations which we would expect to see the Scottish Government build on this commitment to ensure the successful delivery of Scotland’s future tourism strategy.”

Andrew McRae, policy chair for the Federation of Small Businesses, said the trade was in need of a “no-surprise budget” after a turbulent year for businesses.

“After this week’s parliamentary drama around business rates, there are some sensible moves on reliefs,” said McRae. “It’s great news that the lifeline Small Business Bonus Scheme is safe, as are tax breaks for those who invest in their premises. Given the particular pressures facing the sector, it’s also good that relief for day nurseries has been confirmed for another year.

“We also welcome the intent to achieve a degree of tax stability and the prediction that income tax divergence with the rest of the UK is not predicted to increase, notwithstanding what happens in the UK Budget next month.”

Public finance minister, Kate Forbes, delivered the budget after the resignation of finance secretary Derek Mackay.