The Scottish Wholesale Association is collaborating with other leading business groups and sectoral trade associations in a bid to save the Uniform Business Rate (UBR).

In a joint letter, 27 organisations urge MSPs to vote to retain the Uniform Business Rate. The groups represent a wide cross-section of Scottish industry including manufacturing, retail, property, tourism, hospitality and leisure.

This collective call comes ahead of the final Stage 3 vote on the Non-Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, expected over the next few weeks. At Stage 2 of the Bill, the Local Government & Communities Committee voted to end the Scotland-wide Uniform Business Rate, and instead hand control over the setting of the business rate poundage and rates reliefs to each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Colin Smith, chief executive of the Scottish Wholesale Association, commented: “We share the view of the other business groups that there is a need for a competitive rates system and one that better reflects economic and trading conditions.

“The current Uniform Business Rate and Scotland-wide rates reliefs allow companies to plan as they are consistent and predictable,” he continued. “If the UBR is abolished, the major concern is that this could lead to higher business rates bills – hardly conducive to helping businesses to invest and grow.

“We don’t agree that handing over control of the rating system to Scotland’s local authorities is the way forward – it would result in a rates system that is more complex and costly, and put further pressure on hard-working business owners.

“We’ve just come through one of the worst years for retail sales and what business now needs is certainty and a rates and tax system that supports business.

“Our biggest concern is the impact that this will have on our members’ customer base – small and independent retailers, local cafes, restaurants, pubs etc and what that will mean for the sustainability of their business.”

The signatories are:

Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland
Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)
Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland
Grahame Barn, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association Scotland (CECA)
Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive, Company Chemists’ Association
Andrew McRae, Scotland Policy Chair, Federation of Small Businesses
David Thomson, Chief Executive, Food & Drink Federation Scotland
Ian Cass, Managing Director, Forum of Private Business
James Barnes, Chairman, The Horticultural Trades Association
Hilary Halls, Chief Executive, National Hair & Beauty Federation
Edward Cooke, Chief Executive, Revo
Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, SCDI
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive, Scottish Beer & Pub Association
Karen Betts, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association
Alasdair Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Bakers
Brian Rogan, Chair, Business Rates Advisory Group, Scottish Chambers of Commerce
Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering
Pete Cheema, Chief Executive, Scottish Grocers’ Federation
Colin Wilkinson, Managing Director, Scottish Licensed Trade Association
David Melhuish, Director, Scottish Property Federation
David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium
Marc Crothall, Chief Executive, Scottish Tourism Alliance
Colin Smith, Chief Executive, Scottish Wholesale Association
Miles Beale, Chief Executive, The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)
Phil Clapp, Chief Executive, UK Cinema Association
Willie Macleod, Executive Director, UKHospitality
James Lowman, Chief Executive, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS)