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    Scottish Budget: Tax hikes and lack of support could cripple retail growth, SGF says

    Shona Robison, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, is seen attending a cabinet meeting on December 11, 2023 in Haddington, Scotland. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

    The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed several of the measures announced on Tuesday in Scottish deputy first minister Shona Robison’s, who is also the finance secretary, Budget statement, but has warned that taxation and the lack of support for business could hold back the Scottish economy.

    The planned freeze on poundage for the basic property rate, for the next financial year, has been warmly received by the convenience sector. However, the failure of ministers to pass on the 75 per cent rates relief, delivered by the UK government  for businesses south of the border, will inevitably put Scottish retail at a commercial disadvantage, the trade body noted.

    In addition, the new 45 per cent ‘Advanced Rate’ income tax for earners between £75,000 and £125,140 could stifle the ability of Scottish businesses to attract key personnel, adding to the ‘brain drain’ and hampering future investment and business growth, it added.

    Nevertheless, SGF has welcomed the increase budget for Police Scotland, as a vital step toward curbing the recent surge in retail crime in Scotland.

    Commenting, Pete Cheema, SGF chief executive, said: “While there was some welcome news in the finance secretary’s statement, we are deeply concerned about the lack of support or our key sector, and retail in Scotland.

    “Taxation is now at crippling levels and there is no doubt the Scottish Economy and any potential growth will be held back. Costing communities, households and essential local businesses much more in the long run.

    “Convenience stores are significant economic multipliers, providing lifeline services to the areas they serve, so it beggars belief that the Scottish Government has once again failed to pass on the 75% relief for retail, seen elsewhere in the UK.

    “As a top concern for our members, we do welcome plans to uplift the police budget. It remains to be seen, however, if the modest increase in resources will have any meaningful impact on the tsunami of crime facing retailers across Scotland.

    “This is an incredibly challenging time for many businesses, and for our sector. It’s past time that ministers recognise that increased taxation alongside a constant conveyor belt of regulation is crippling business growth in Scotland.”

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