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Bira welcomes Scottish business rates relief

The British Independent Retail Association (Bira) has welcomed the decision by the Scottish Parliament to retain the Uniform Business Rates (UBR).

Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) rejected plans to devolve rate-setting powers to the country’s 32 local authorities at Holyrood on 4 February. 

They voted 103 to 10 against the move. 

Bira has been campaigning to save the UBR alongside the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) and said it was “delighted” by the decision.

“This is fantastic news for Scottish retailers”, Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO, said. ”Our fears were that, had business rate-setting powers been devolved to local authorities, it would have led to an overall increase in rates for retailers, and created a great deal of uncertainty. We have worked with the SRC to make this happen. We have written letters, responded to consultations, and called upon our members to write to the relevant decision makers.

“This is a logical and sensible decision by MSPs in an already challenging time for our high streets and for independent retail businesses. Moving forward, Bira will continue to fight for a better deal for independent retailers across the UK.”

David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, added: “Retailers, and the business community as a whole, will breathe a huge sigh of relief that MSPs have listened and voted to retain the consistency, simplicity and predictability that the UBR brings, and that the reckless plan to abolish it has been defeated.

“With business rates bills already at a 20-year high, scrapping the UBR and fragmenting the rates system would likely bring further cost and complexity for ratepayers, and exacerbate the challenges being faced by property-intensive sectors like retail.”

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