Wider debate on business rates needed in Parliament

Andy Wightman MSP, Local Government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (22 Feb) urged a future parliamentary debate on how and where business rates are decided as the Government's review is too limited.

At today's meeting of Holyrood's Local Government Committee, Mr Wightman proposed annulling the 2017 Non-Domestic Rates Order to prompt an explanation from the Finance Secretary about how rates are decided.

In 18 years of devolution the rate of Scotland’s second highest-yielding tax has never been voted on by the full Holyrood chamber and it has been ten years since the rate was voted on by a committee. 

Today the Finance Secretary agreed that wider scrutiny is needed and that a fuller debate can be had after the Barclay Review is completed in the coming months.

Andy Wightman, Local Government spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:

"Proper scrutiny of non-domestic rates, which generate almost £3billion a year for council services, has long been needed. It's extraordinary that it took the prospect of annulment to prompt today's discussion at committee, and I look forward to a wider debate in Parliament once the Barclay Review is complete.

"It should be remembered that the Barclay Review is very narrow in focus, and only asks how to reform the system as it exists. Instead we should be asking whether business rates are fit for purpose at all, and this should be part of the ongoing discussion in this Parliament about reform of local taxation. How businesses are taxed should be a fundamental tool that local councils can use to respond to local needs."