Scottish business faces 23% rates increase

alcohol Large shops selling alcohol and tobacco will face a new tax from next April

Business in Scotland faces an increase in rates of 23% over the next three years, increasing its local tax bill by nearly £500m.

The figures have emerged from academic analysis of the Holyrood budget set out by Finance Secretary John Swinney.

Less than a tenth of the increase is explained by a new levy on shops selling tobacco and alcohol.

The government also intends to charge people for business properties that are lying empty.

The plan to tax large retailers selling alcohol and tobacco is intended to raise £30m in the year from next April, rising to £40m per year after that.

If approved, it will apply from April 2012 to retail properties with a rateable value of more than £300,000.

Garry Clark, of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said: "We are very disappointed by moves to increase business rates again in Scotland.

"We are only just coming to terms with the increase last year through the abolition of transitional relief.

"Obviously we had a threatened retail levy earlier this year which was defeated in the Scottish parliament so to find that coming back along with potentially abolishing empty property relief is bad news for business."

Professor John MacLaren from the Centre of Public Policy for regions at Glasgow University said :"It's a mixed signal from what they are saying - if there was a fiscally autonomous Scotland where they would like to reduce corporation tax.

"They're not identical but businesses will see them as both taxes on what they do and they would like them to be lower so it's not going to be well received."

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