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Open Letter to MSPs on Uniform Business Rate

COMMERCE UNITES TO SAVE THE UNIFORM BUSINESS RATE

Twenty-six of the country’s leading business representative groups and sectoral trade associations have written a joint letter to MSPs, urging them to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate. 

The 26 organisations represent a wide cross section of Scottish industry including manufacturing, retail, property, tourism, hospitality and leisure. 

The collective call comes ahead of the final Stage 3 vote on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, expected over the next few weeks. The text of the letter is as follows:

 

 

Dear MSP,

Retain the Uniform Business Rate

We are writing to you ahead of Stage 3 of the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill to voice our alarm and shared concern over recently adopted amendments which seek to scrap the Uniform Business Rate and instead hand control over this £2.8 billion tax to each of the 32 local authorities to set their own poundage rate, rates reliefs, and any supplements or surcharges.

Our ambition is for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions. It is why we have supported the thrust of the Bill.

However, we are profoundly concerned with the abolition of the Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs, and the consistency and predictability they bring. 

We fear this could lead to higher business rates bills, at a time when the poundage rate is already at a 20-year high and with a further increase pencilled in for this Spring, and when businesses want to invest and grow the Scottish economy.

We therefore urge you and fellow MSPs to overturn these amendments, which simply introduce fresh complexity, cost and unpredictability into the rates system, and which are at odds with the rates reform agenda of ensuring competitiveness and minimising complexity.

We want Scotland to be a great place to do business. Retaining the Uniform Business Rate would be a positive step in the right direction.

Your sincerely,

 

Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland

Grahame Barn, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland (CECA)

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive, Company Chemists’ Association

Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses

David Thomson, Chief Executive, Food & Drink Federation Scotland

Ian Cass, Managing Director, Forum of Private Business

James Barnes, Chairman, The Horticultural Trades Association

Hilary Halls, Chief Executive, National Hair & Beauty Federation

Edward Cooke, Chief Executive, Revo

Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, SCDI

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive, Scottish Beer & Pub Association

Karen Betts, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association

Alasdair Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Bakers

Name tbc, title tbc, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering

Pete Cheema, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers Federation

Colin Wilkinson, Managing Director, Scottish Licensed Trade Association

David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium

Marc Crothall, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance

Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesale Association

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)

Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association

Willie Macleod, Executive Director, UKHospitality

Youngest Ever President for SGF

NEW SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT

Scottish Grocers Federation has announced two major developments in its long-term succession planning.

Nisa retailer Dan Brown has been appointed to the role of SGF Senior Vice-President. This means that Brown – widely seen as a rising star of the sector in Scotland – will assume the Presidency when the current President Asim Sarwar steps down in October 2020. Brown, already a key member of the SGF National Executive, will become the Federation’s youngest ever President. Dan Brown commented,

'I am truly honoured to be taking on the role of Senior Vice-President and I am very much looking forward to working with Asim and the SGF team. The SGF has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and as we enter 2020 we bring with us a truly diverse wealth of experience and a political voice that has tremendous potential to influence the direction of our industry.”

SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE said,

I am delighted that the National Executive has approved this move. This will ensure a smooth transition between two of the key roles within the federation. Dan’s fresh thinking, motivation and enthusiasm will undoubtedly have a big impact and will be a major asset as we move into 2020 and beyond.”

At the same time, SGF has announced that Keystore Retail Director Craig Brown will become the Federation’s Vice-President. This means that Brown will ultimately succeed to the Presidency when Dan Brown’s 2-year term ends in 2022.

Parliament to Look at Retail Crime Legislation

Scottish Grocers Federation has welcomed a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to create a safer working environment for retailers. Daniel Johnson MSP has today formally lodged his Private Members Bill to the Scottish Parliament, marking the beginning of the 3-stage scrutiny process.

The Bill would create a separate offence and a statutory aggravation for the assault and impediment of a retail worker carrying out age-restricted sales. The Bill would be similar in scope and rationale to the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Bill that safeguards staff of the emergency services in their duties.

Currently, workers dealing with age-restricted sales are personally liable for upholding the law, but do not receive the same level of protection as other professions, such as Police officers, Border staff and tax collectors. The bill as drafted would also extend to non-retail staff such as delivery drivers and those working in hotels. After a lengthy consultation and with cross-party support, the Bill will now be scrutinised by one of the Committees of the Scottish Parliament before a final vote by MSPs. Launching the Bill today, Daniel Johnson MSP met with staff in an Edinburgh Scotmid store along with the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF).

Daniel Johnson MSP said:

“I am delighted to see my bill formally lodged in the Scottish Parliament today, it marks the start of the process of parliamentary scrutiny and the prospect of bringing legal protection for retail workers that the growing evidence of violence and abuse makes clear is needed.”

“Abuse and threatening behaviour should not be part of the job, and with the busy Christmas shopping season fast approaching it is now more important than ever that this is recognised.”

“I believe this bill will secure the rights of all those who feel threatened at their place of work and will make it clear that such behaviour will not and should not be tolerated. Everyone has a right to feel safe at work wherever they work.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank USDAW, the SGF and all those other trade Unions and organisations that have worked with me and look forward to speaking with Parliamentary colleagues as the bill makes its way through the necessary Parliamentary stages.”

Dr Pete Cheema OBE, SGF Chief Executive, said:

“On behalf of the 5,000 convenience stores in Scotland we want to thank Daniel for his unwavering determination to get this Bill to Parliament.”

“As we have said strongly and consistently: this represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a safer environment for retailers, customers and communities. We will do everything we can to encourage MSPs to support the Bill. Whatever happens with the Bill we believe this marks a step-change in Scotland’s approach to retail crime”. 

Local MSP Kate Forbes Meets With The Cobbs Group

SGF members, the Cobbs Group, met with their local MSP Kate Forbes last Friday to discuss potential business development opportunities for this truly highland company whose portfolio includes a wholesale bakery, hotels, restaurants, coffee houses and gift shops. Ms Forbes was given a tour of the Cobbs wholesale bakery facility which is based in the Loch Ness-side village of Drumnadrochit followed by a visit to their Loch Ness Clansman Hotel.

SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE who was also in attendance said: “We are delighted that Kate Forbes MSP took the opportunity to meet with SGF members, the Cobbs Group, to discuss issues of importance to the company and to explore potential support available to their business to enable to them to grow, develop and expand. Cobbs are a key employer in the area and contribute more widely to their community as a whole.”

Managing Director, Cobbs Group, Fraser Campbell said: “At Cobbs we take pride in our distinctively highland roots and the contribution we make to the local economy. I would like to thank Kate Forbes MSP for taking the time to positively engage with us over potential support available to the Cobbs Group and to the Scottish Grocer’s Federation for helping make this meeting possible.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “I was delighted to visit Cobbs Group last week and discuss their plans for growth and expansion. It is an incredible organisation, firmly rooted in the Highlands.

“I am a big supporter of Highland businesses that stay local but export right across the country, like Cobbs. I wish them well in their future endeavours, and look forward to visiting again.”

The Cobbs Group are based in the town of Drumnadrochit, Inverness and joined the Scottish Grocer’s Federation earlier this year.

Latest News

  • Open Letter to MSPs on Uniform Business Rate +

    COMMERCE UNITES TO SAVE THE UNIFORM BUSINESS RATE Twenty-six of the country’s leading business representative groups and sectoral trade associations Read More
  • Youngest Ever President for SGF +

    NEW SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT Scottish Grocers Federation has announced two major developments in its long-term succession planning. Nisa retailer Dan Read More
  • Parliament to Look at Retail Crime Legislation +

    Scottish Grocers Federation has welcomed a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to create a safer working environment for retailers. Daniel Johnson MSP has Read More
  • Local MSP Kate Forbes Meets With The Cobbs Group +

    SGF members, the Cobbs Group, met with their local MSP Kate Forbes last Friday to discuss potential business development opportunities Read More
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