Sun 2 Feb, 2020

It’s time for the Scottish Government to give power back to local communities, instead of hoarding it all at Holyrood Andy Wightman

Proposals from Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman to devolve powers over non-domestic rates to councils have been backed by two major think tanks in Scotland.

Commonweal and Reform Scotland both support Wightman’s amendments to the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, which will be voted on next week.

Commenting, Andy Wightman said: “Our proposal would be the biggest devolution of fiscal powers to local authorities since the Scottish Parliament was established, giving councils real power to design tax regimes based on local circumstances and the particular needs of the businesses and communities there.

“However, this is not a radical proposition. It would make Scotland align with most normal European countries, where decisions are taken at a local level as a matter of course. The suggestion that these proposals would punish small businesses is a complete misrepresentation. Indeed, decisions being made closer to them would empower small businesses to be able to make their own case to councillors directly.

“It’s time for the Scottish Government to give power back to local communities, instead of hoarding it all at Holyrood.”

Common Weal director Robin McAlpine said: “Scotland is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world and there is increasing public unhappiness about the inability for communities to make decisions for themselves.

“Almost every other European nation devolves some business taxes to local authorities so there is simply no good reason for the Scottish Parliament to cling onto these powers. Centralisation is failing Scotland.”

Chris Deerin, director of Reform Scotland, said: “Devolution of power shouldn’t stop at Holyrood. Our regions, cities and communities have vastly differing needs, and empowering local authorities in a way that allows them to deliver, and to be accountable, is an obvious and necessary step.’

“If the Scottish Government truly believes in localism it will back the proposals from Andy Wightman to repatriate business rates to local authorities

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