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21 February 2017

Local MP & MSP Back Scottish Government Rates Relief

Measures Prove SNP Government Will Always Back North-East Businesses

Banff & Buchan SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford and Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson have backed the Scottish Government’s proposals on business rates, after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a wide-ranging relief scheme that will offer strong support to businesses across the North-east.

Overall, the complete package of Scottish Government relief will ensure that 60% of businesses in the Aberdeenshire Council area will see either no change or a decrease in their business rates bill – with more businesses being entitled to support through the small business bonus scheme. The Scottish Government had already taken action to reduce the rates poundage to help businesses who have seen a revaluation.

The relief proposals will provide support for hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes, which had seen their rates rise the steepest following the 2015 revaluation. Any rises in this sector will be capped at 12.5% - providing substantial support to the tourism and hospitality industries in Banff & Buchan.

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford MP said:

“This announcement by the Scottish Government proves once again the SNP’s commitment to local businesses across the North-east – with the substantial package of support ensuring that many businesses will not see any rise in the rates that they pay.

“The support for the tourism and hospitality sectors is very welcome – after these industries were left facing substantial hikes in their rates bills. The cap of a 12.5% increase provides excellent support to hotels, pubs, restaurants and cafes throughout Banff & Buchan.

“The extension to the small business bonus will see over 100,000 firms across Scotland pay no rates whatsoever, which is a strong package of support for local businesses, and comes in addition to other funding offered in the Scottish Government’s budget, including the £500m Scottish Growth Scheme, and action taken to reduce the rates poundage.”

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“It was frustrating to see the Conservatives on both Moray Council and Aberdeenshire Council reject sensible proposals from the SNP for a local relief scheme – showing that the Tories are only interested in political point scoring rather than actually doing anything to support local businesses.

“I’m particularly pleased that my SNP colleagues on Aberdeenshire Council managed to secure their local relief scheme with the support of Labour and progressive Independent councilors. This now means businesses in the Aberdeenshire area will potentially benefit from both schemes, supporting the local economy at this time.

“This relief package shows that only the SNP are interested in taking decisive action to support communities and businesses, whilst the Tories chase cheap headlines by carping from the side-lines.

“Overall, 60% of businesses in the Aberdeenshire Council area will see either a decrease or no change in the bills that they pay as a result of the Scottish Government’s support – helping to protect jobs and support firms in the North-east. It is time for the opposition parties to put their political opportunism to one side and to get behind the substantial support that the Scottish Government is proposing.”

16 February 2017

Tory Business Rates Hypocrisy Continues

Bid to Block Relief to Scots Firms Amid Soaring Charges in England

The Tories have been exposed for “appalling hypocrisy” after reports showed that firms are set to be “hammered” by business rates changes in England – while Tory councillors have voted against support for businesses here in Scotland.

The Tory groups on Moray and Aberdeenshire councils voted against rates relief at local authority level, despite Ruth Davidson’s rhetoric on the issue.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson, said:

“Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories are guilty of the most appalling hypocrisy on this issue.

”Firstly, Tory groups in Scottish councils are trying to block relief schemes to lower bills for firms in their areas.

“Meanwhile, the Tory government at Westminster has failed to take the decisive action over poundage and the small business bonus that the Scottish Government has to support local businesses, leading to soaring bills for companies south of the border.

“This kind of dishonesty and blatant double standards from the Tories shows them up for the opportunists that they are.

“The Tory council groups in Moray and Aberdeenshire ought to be ashamed of themselves for betraying local businesses by refusing rates relief in Moray, and by trying unsuccessfully to stop the SNP-led administration in Aberdeenshire from providing substantial support of £3 million for local businesses.

“The SNP will take no lectures from the Tories on this issue – and voters will see the shameful hypocrisy at the heart of Tory claims for what it is.”

15 February 2017

Tories Vote Against Rates Relief for Businesses

"Astonishing Hypocrisy" from Conservatives

Tory councillors in the North-East of Scotland have rejected plans to offer businesses rates relief for the second time in under a week – after the Tory-led Moray administration today threw out an SNP amendment encouraging the Moray Council to follow Aberdeenshire’s lead in offering local business rates relief.

SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire last week passed a budget allocating £3 million for a local business rates relief scheme, to help those that have seen larger rates revaluations and are feeling the effects of the downturn in the north east economy. SNP councillors in Moray had tabled an amendment to the Tory-led budget in Moray suggesting a similar scheme, but this was rejected by Tory councillors, including part-time-MSP-cum-referee-cum-councillor Douglas Ross.

On the same day as Ruth Davidson has reportedly stated that businesses are “staring down the barrel of a gun” due to changes to business rates, the actions of Tory councillors clearly demonstrated they are more interested in opportunistic soundbites rather than providing firms with meaningful support when they have the powers to do so.

Commenting, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson, said:

“This is quite astonishing from the Tory-led administration in Moray. They have not stopped criticising the Scottish Government for the changes to business rates, yet they refuse to use the powers that they have at a local level to provide firms with meaningful support.

“It is clear that Ruth Davidson’s Tories are only interested in scoring political points rather than actually providing any support to the businesses they have claimed to support in recent weeks.

“Voters across Moray and Aberdeenshire aren’t daft, and they’ll have seen Douglas Ross and others leading the chorus against changes to businesses rates, before he voted today to prevent businesses from receiving substantial support. Their opposition has been proven to be nothing more than crocodile tears.

“The Tories ought to be ashamed of themselves – and their actions won’t be forgotten by voters in Aberdeenshire, Moray and beyond when they go to the polls in May.”
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