SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod has welcomed Scottish Government plans to provide Dumfries & Galloway Council with an opportunity to adjust business rates relief packages to suit local needs.
Local Government Minister Derek Mackay has unveiled a new action plan that follows a three-month consultation with trade bodies and business organisations around the country.
The plan will see the business rates system improved by making it more transparent and providing businesses with access to simple, clear information about rates and valuations.
Scotland already offers the most generous rates relief package in the UK, worth over £560million in the current financial year. Now every business in the region can expect to receive a letter aimed at ensuring all who are eligible are benefitting from the Small Business Bonus Scheme.
Welcoming the initiative, Dr McLeod said:
“The Small Business Bonus Scheme remains an essential lifeline to companies in Dumfries & Galloway. As many as 6,000 small business premises across the region could be eligible, with rates cut by an average of £1400.
“This action plan will help to deliver a rates system that supports sustainable economic growth and includes a proposal that would give the local Council the power to set local rates reliefs so allowing them to respond to local needs.
“It underlines the commitment of the Scottish Government to retain the Small Business Bonus Scheme and to match anything that is available in other parts of the UK.
“The plan will retain all current exemptions including agriculture which is vital in a rural region such as Dumfries & Galloway, while there will be a review of the application processes for rates relief to ensure that they are simple, transparent and streamlined.
“I note also that COSLA see this plan as a positive step towards empowering our Councils to respond to local business needs and is very much in line with their own vision for Scottish Local Government.”