8 October 2015

  |  CBI Updates Team

Update

Scottish firms want more competitive business rates – CBI manifesto

Business rates in Scotland need an urgent overhaul if the region is to compete with the rest of the UK, the CBI has insisted in its manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood elections, published a week before the SNP conference.

Scottish firms want more competitive business rates – CBI manifesto

Widespread criticism of the current system in England prompted the UK government to launch a review of non-domestic rates earlier this year and separately the Chancellor committed to devolving power for business rates to local authorities earlier this week.

Download the manifesto (pdf)

But the CBI warns that unless the next Scottish government ensures its business rates are competitive with the rest of the UK, it risks losing its reputation as “a great place to do business.”

Hugh Aitken, CBI Scotland Director, said:

“Business wants to make Scotland the place to be by attracting more talent, investment and ambition to one of the most exciting and promising countries in the world.

“By making our business rates more competitive, we can work with government to create the best possible environment here for growth and innovation.”

The CBI’s manifesto also calls for the new Scottish government to:

  • Outline a clear tax roadmap to show how revenue from income tax, land taxes, Air Passenger Duty, council tax and business rates will be used to drive growth
  • Create a new business-led board to give Skills Development Scotland advice on how to address skills shortages
  • Increase housing supply to 25,000 new homes each year, while strengthening the capacity of local planning authorities to help developments get started
  • Deliver a shortlist of future transport infrastructure priorities that are critical to the Scottish economy and have cross-party support
  • Boost collaboration between businesses and universities that drive innovation and research to help Scottish firms compete internationally.

Hugh Aitken, CBI Scotland Director, said:

“Our manifesto is about what business can do for government, individuals and society, rather than just what government can do for business.

“Business can create the jobs and generate the wealth that will create a prosperous, aspirational and inclusive society – getting there must be the shared goal of government and business.

“Having a clear tax roadmap would enable firms to plan ahead and make changes to payroll systems, as well as encourage long-term investment in innovation and infrastructure.

“And improvements to road and rail connections to cities in northern England, more direct flights from Scotland through Heathrow to the rest of the world, and broader, faster digital networks will boost economic opportunities and job creation.”

The CBI’s manifesto entitled “Accelerating our ambitions – A business vision to drive success in Scotland” also sets out longer term priorities for the new Scottish government.

Priorities for year two include: a commitment to use funding raised through the UK Apprenticeship Levy to improve workforce skills; improved digital connectivity in government and local authority infrastructure projects, and making Scottish Enterprise the first port of call in supporting business.

In year three, priorities include: extending the provision of 15 hours free childcare to all one and two year olds; supporting the Airports Commission recommendations to deliver new hub capacity, and the development of a Scottish-UK energy plan to boost infrastructure long term.