The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has challenged Scottish finance secretary John Swinney to answer five key questions about the proposed retail levy when he appears at the Scottish Parliament later today.
The SRC is challenging the myths which it said have been deployed in an attempt to justify singling out a small number of firms within a single sector for extra taxation. Retailers have united to warn of the threat this levy poses to future job creation and investment in Scotland.
The SRC said the five questions are: Why has this been described as an out-of-town tax when it also affects town and city centre premises? How can you depict this tax as beneficial to smaller businesses when it is not raising any additional income for them, beyond what was already being provided by the small business bonus scheme? How can you claim to support economic growth while at the same time penalising companies who create thousands of jobs? What is your justification for singling out one particular part of one particular sector? Have you assessed the potential damage to future investment and job creation which will be caused by making Scotland the most expensive part of the UK in which to locate a major store?
Sainsbury’s boss Justin King has said previously he would have to rethink expansion in Scotland if the levy comes into place.
SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: “It is extremely worrying that there is so little clarity on a key budget proposal so late in the day. The issues we urge the Finance Secretary to address are ones which we have been seeking explanations for since this misconceived tax was first announced.
“The consequences for Scotland of this tax are extremely serious. There will be fewer large retail stores opening in the future and fewer existing stores will be expanded. That means a reduction in future job creation, both at the major retailers and at businesses which support them.
“Retailers with sites in Scotland are committed to the country. They employ local people, help them develop skills and already pay large sums in tax and to support local regeneration efforts. The contribution the retail sector makes to the Scottish economy is substantial and will grow, providing this anti-retail levy is rejected.”