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Business rates overhaul proposed ahead of Scottish election

The Scottish Retail Consortium has published the first in a series of policy papers setting out its recommendations for overhauling the business rates system.

The paper, Holyrood 2016: Business Rates, calls in the longer term for a firm commitment to a fundamental structural reform of business rates, including consideration of whether it should remain a property-based tax.

It also sets out a range of short-term reforms the SRC says are urgently required to halt the number of store closures and protect jobs.

These include more frequent revaluations of business rates and empty property relief for premises undergoing investment and refurbishment.

Commenting on the policy paper, which has been published ahead of next year’s Scottish parliament election, SRC director David Lonsdale said: “There needs to be a thorough debate about how the next Scottish administration and parliament will seek to help raise the country’s rate of economic growth and improve business productivity.

“There is a strong and growing consensus across business and industry in Scotland that the current business rates system is inadequate to the task, out of date, no longer fit for purpose and in serious need of fundamental reform.

“This is not just a problem for businesses. Store closures have a significant and detrimental impact on communities and town centres and lead to a loss in government revenue through other taxes.

“That is why we have launched our proposals for reform, which are vital for securing a competitive business environment in Scotland.”

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