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Scotland risks 'killing goose that laid golden egg'

10 December 2010

Scotland risks “killing the goose that laid the golden egg” if proposals to hike supermarkets’ business rates are followed through on, the property industry has warned

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for finance & sustainable growth in the Scottish Government, has proposed up to a 35% tax grab from supermarkets and other large retailers as the Scottish government looks for an additional £30mn in business rates from large retailers.

The added costs risk “killing off” a vital flow of inward investment into Scotland, whose recovery is already lagging behind the rest of the UK and will compromise the job creation ability of the supermarkets.

Malcolm Naish, chairman of the Scottish Property Federation and head of property at Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, warned: “The tax rise will inevitably be paid by either the consumer or ultimately, the investor.

“The selective imposition of additional business rates on large retailers, who are key drivers of our economy, questions whether Scotland is really open to business investment and long term sustainable economic growth. The consequences of supplementary rates on a few large retailers may be far greater and longer reaching than the Scottish Government realises.”

The measures are particularly damaging for retail led development and regeneration projects, where large retailers often provide the anchor tenancy that makes a project economically viable.

Land Securities, the largest commercial property company in the UK, questioned "the wisdom of the decision as it is yet again putting [Scotland] in an uncompetitive position against the rest of the UK when it comes to attracting inward investment. The potential supermarket developments have for regenerating an area is a significant opportunity for local economies and one that should not be sacrificed."

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, warned: “Is hammering supermarkets – a sector that has made enormous contributions to regeneration and provides jobs to thousands of people – really a sensible way to promote economic recovery?

David Melhuish, Director at the Scottish Property Federation added: “Holyrood risks forcing some of the UK’s most successful retailers to think twice about investing in Scotland. This massive additional tax burden imposed on a handful of leading companies may be akin to killing the goose that laid the golden egg.”

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